Our survival as a species is centred around our relationship with seeds, they are entwined in our culture and are a part of who we are.
This project explores the relationship, from gardeners who carefully collect and save seed annually to grow the vegetables they eat, to the scientists who blast them with gene guns to alter their DNA.
For a plant the creation of the seed it is the culmination of a cycle and its life purpose, the dormant seed is a pause in their evolution. But because plants are rooted in place they have evolved to rely on wind, birds or animals to disperse their seed.
Animals and birds are unwitting carriers of seed but some plants have made themselves very attractive and important to humans and in doing so their destiny and consequent evolution is determined by humans.
Indigenous peoples see plants as their relatives and recognise this partnership as sacred, sharing stories of seeds passed down through generations back to our ancestral roots.
As recently as 50 years ago in the western world seeds were also passed down through families and shared within communities.
But instead of gratitude to plants for their offerings, the present dominant reductive and mechanistic world-view sees plants and seeds as just another commodity.
This has permitted scientists to reconstruct these living organisms to form 'man-made' seeds allowing the power to own and patent seeds.
Seeds have become slaves, exploited by capitalist system and have lost their vitality and connection to the web of life.
However, it seems the stories of seperation we have lived by are breaking down. We've become alienated from the ecosystem we are part of and people are yearning to feel connected. Sowing seeds and caring for them while they develop their life sustaining offering can give fragments of meaning in the wasteland of materialist culture, it connects us to nature and our food.
We are discovering the key to resilience is diversity and seed sovereignty is returning to 'the commons'. We can recreate a mutually beneficial alliance as collaborator and co-evolutionary partner with plants, through carrying out mindful and respectful seed saving practises and community sharing.
Artist in Residency at the Seed Co-Operative
I'm delighted to announce that I'm now Artist-in-Residence at the Seed Co-Operative who are the UK's only community owned seed suppliers. They grow, process and sell organic, open-pollinated seed, aiming to 'shine a spotlight on the vital, but all-too-often forgotten, role of the humble seed in building a resilient food system.'
My aim in this residency is to explore the connection to the plants with whom we are co-creating and strengthening, as we also become stronger, resisting control and reversing separation. An intimacy evolves that can bring a deeply felt relationship with nature and community.
The sowing of the seed to grow the plant from which the seeds will be saved is a cylical process. Images will be shared on my Instagram feed throughout the year.
I recently became Seed Co-ordinator for Norfolk Organic Group.
This role entails packaging and looking after the seeds members have saved from plants grown organically in their gardens. The seed box is taken to events so the seeds can be shared or swapped with others.
My images are used to engage the public with the stall and help teach about plants and why to garden organically.
I have also undertaken a seed saving course so I can share knowledge and teach people how to seed save.
I was honoured to experience this online weekend put together by Seed Sovereignty, with contributions from people involved with seed from all over the world, bakers, historians, musicians, academics and growers, amongst others, as diverse as the seeds we wish to be in our communities.
The Custom Food Lab are a collective of people (artists, designers, researchers, growers + activists) who are passionate about food and the future – where food comes from, how it’s grown, it’s potential to tell a story, to connect people to each other, to nature, to heritage, to discover long lost sustainable practices, to re-imagine a food system outside of capitalism. They produced a brilliant physical zine. I am totally inspired to do more with my exploration of seed.
I passionately believe in Open Pollinated seeds, pollinated by insects or wind and not by forced inbreeding. Find out more in Allotment Alice's blog.
Garden Organic Heritage Seed Library is a source for these seeds. I collaborated with them on a project depicting 12 vegetables with their seed arranged as a painterly still life. These 12 images were made into a calendar for 2021