RANE-CHAR is a Bio-char produced by artist, researcher and leader of the RANE research group at University College Falmouth, Dr Daro Montag. It is part of a project designed to promote positive action to help combat climate change.

Bio-char is a fine grained, highly porous charcoal that helps soils retain nutrients and water.  It is found in soils around the world as a result of vegetation fires and historic soil management practices. In Pre-Columbian times soil covering a large area of the Amazon rainforest was regularly treated with Bio-char by the indigenous people. Through this action the poor, yellow Amazonian soils were transformed into the rich, dark earth known as Terra Preta. This practice enabled a more sustainable way of life as the land could be farmed and support the population. Intensive studies of Terra Preta have led to a wider appreciation of Bio-char’s unique properties in helping to maintain a healthy soil.

In addition to its properties as a soil conditioner Bio-char also has significant potential as a means of reducing greenhouse gases. During their lifetime plants take carbon out of the atmosphere. When turned into charcoal, through the process of pyrolysis, much of that carbon is turned into a form that resists degradation for hundreds, even thousands of years. By using it as a soil conditioner Bio-char sequesters the carbon and acts as a sink that is effectively carbon negative. It can therefore contribute to the fight against climate change.

Participating in the project
In order to participate in the RANE-CHAR project you are invited to acquire a bag of Bio-char – please contact Daro Montag for details – bury or scatter its contents over the soil, at a location near your home address, and complete and return the attached label, noting the location the Bio-char has been used. The bag can be retained as an artists’ multiple, or alternatively it can be composted. Your action will be added to the map of Bio-char usage sites below, and become part of the ongoing RANE-CHAR project.

Exhibiting of the project
The RANE-CHAR project is now in the process of being exhibited at various venues:

RANE-CHAR at the Eden Project: December 2009

RANE-CHAR and the UNFOLD Touring Exhibition: From May 2010

An exhibition entitled ‘Unfold’, developed from Cape Farewell’s recent Arctic and Peruvian Andes & Amazon expeditions features Daro Montag’s RANE-CHAR project and will be touring at the following venues:
University of the Applied Arts, Vienna (Austria) 6 May 2010 – end of June 2010; Kings Place, London, 20 August 2010 – 2 October 2010; Newcastle University Gallery 8 October 2010 – 12 November 2010; Newlyn Art Gallery, Newyln 26 November 2010 – 29 January 2011; Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago (USA) Feb 2011; and Liverpool University Gallery beginning 2012. More venues in North America and Asia are currently being negotiated.

The work of other artists in this touring exhibition, besides Daro Montag include: Ackroyd & Harvey, Amy Balkin, David Buckland, Adriane Colburn, Sam Collins, Nick Edwards, Ian McEwan, Leslie Feist, Francesca Galeazzi, Marije de Haas, Robyn Hitchcock & KT Tunstall, Brenndan McGuire, Michele Noach, Lucy & Jorge Orta, Sunand Prasad, Tracey Rowledge, Lemn Sissay, Shiro Takatani, Clare Twomey, and Chris Wainwright.

RANE-CHAR distribution sites:
(This map will be updated as the project progresses)


RANE-CHAR Presentation:

Dr Daro Montag has presented a lecture on the background an inspiration for this project entitled ‘Vinegar & Brown Paper’, a video of which can be viewed below via VIMEO: