I found a two kilo bag of reduced plums in a supermarket one Sunday autumn afternoon, so I decided to make urban jam with them. I hadn’t imagined that the process would also produce 44 plum stones. I religiously fished the 44 stones out of the molten jam pot and stacked them all onto a chopping board. They looked so prefect, just like little sculptures, I was reluctant to throw them away. Instead I decided to organise a participatory project, during which I would distribute the 44 plum stones to 44 different people.

This project is a collaborative piece where the ‘seed keeper’ decides what happens to the plum stone. It can be planted or decorated, carved, photographed, used in a performance and more. I would like to meet with the person and negotiate process and documentation of the stone, which I can help with or leave completely to the discretion of the individual.

The whole process will be documented from start to finish as below:

• Each stone will be photographed on all four sides before it’s given away

• I will take a picture of each person with their plum stone

• I will create a spreadsheet on which I will note which stone goes to whom, and what was decided after an initial meeting with the prospective seed keeper

• I will take a follow-up picture one month after adoption, and document the findings

If you would like to participate in the project please contact me on lorenza@lorenzaippolito.co.uk

 

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All pictures © Francesca Moore

Here are some pictures from Seed to Seed Conversational Workshop that took place on the 6th September.

Thanks to all who took part in the workshop. We had an incredibly vibrant conversation with exceptionally varied groups of participants including the members from the local Indian communities, food growers and seed enthusiasts, Roger Smith from the Millennium Seed Bank and artists amongst others.

Particularly a warm thank you to the Indian Community representatives for their generous contributions of life experience in the UK and how they struggled to find a way to keep their vegetarian food culture alive in the constraints of the UK vegetable supply of the 60s, 70s and 80s. We heard incredible stories of sweetcorn growing in Kent against all predictions and monthly treks to London to stock up on spices, cooking oils, fruit and vegetables amongst other essentials.

Thank you to Roger Smith from the Millennium Seed Bank for his knowledge and helping us gain an insight into seed production.

Thanks also to all other participants for coming  and for sharing their views. Part of my work as an artist is to facilitate ways of making people from diverse backgrounds meet and share views. I think this event can be seen as a success.

I will be using audio recordings from this workshop to create a new piece of work and I will provide more information closer to the time.

I have some great feedback from some of the participants that you can read below.

I hope to continue the discussion and to be able to go deeper into the conversations soon with all of you.

Comments

Thanks Lorenza. I found it a very interesting meeting and particularly enjoyed the input from people of Indian origin, and from the scientists, who made a special and valuable contribution. I look forward to the next conversation, and I do appreciate the effort you put for people’s comfort: great venue, great refreshments etc.” Valerie

I really enjoyed the workshop and also was interested in reading your blog – I loved your photos.
I thought you might like to see a couple of the seed images I made recently…
Such and interesting subject! Look forward to more…” Erika

It was great to be able to get along to Seed to Seed on Friday and I really enjoyed it and I think you are a very good host! It was an interesting mix of people and it was really nice to meet everyone and have the opportunity to chat.

[…] I’d have loved to have learned a bit more about the traditions of seed keeping and perhaps seen some pictures – but perhaps I will find out more about it when you finally show the work. It is a really interesting subject with so many different facets and questions attached to it and of course people have such strong opinions and it is obviously a very emotive area. It was really interesting to have the seed scientist there who was able to give us a little factual information too.” Judith

Would you like to take part in a participatory art project at Fabrica Art Gallery?

© Francesca Moore

© Francesca Moore

Seed to Seed is a conversational workshop that will culminate in an artist film.

Using conversation and recordings from India as a catalyst we will delve into the many Indian and Asian cultures present in Brighton to understand their richness.

The conversation will be open to all participants creating a platform to discuss cultural diversity. Seed keeping in India, food production and technology, food in culture amongst other themes.The event will be filmed and audio recorded.
Refreshments Provided.

Seed to Seed – Free Conversational Workshop
6th September 2:30-4:00pm, Fabrica Gallery, 40 Duke Street, BN1 1HG An exploration of Seed Keeping, Technology, Food Production and Indian Cultures

For more information about the project blog: Learning Curves
or
email: lorenza@lorenzaippolito.co.uk or
call: 01273 778646

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These are some images I took at Balcombe during the weekend

The atmosphere was joyful and happy with amazing drummers, banners and creative protesters.

Hope you enjoy them and feel free to leave a comment.

 

Pond at Millennium Seed BankToday I went to visit Wolfgang Stuppy at the Millennium Seed Bank. It was a very interesting visit where we discussed the potential for my Seed to Seed project and how the MSB could help.

I was happy to learn about the work that Tiziana is doing to help local partners to reintroduce local seeds. I hope to be able to have a conversation with her, amongst other about her work there.

During my stay today I was able to visit the different environments of the Seed Bank. There is a routine to seed keeping that starts with cleaning the seed from detritus. A very important step is drying the seed properly and to do so the seed are kept in a special room at 15ªC and 15 percent humidity for a week.

After that they are store in glass jars (basic jam jars!!) and frozen at -20ªC. for ten years, after which a sample is taken out and germinated.

Here is a link to the Millennium Seed Bank Website

http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/save-seed-prosper/millennium-seed-bank/index.htm

© Francesca Moore

© Francesca Moore

 
Seed to Seed is an artist video piece exploring ideas of seed keeping and agricultural heritage in local and global communities, from India to the UK, by artist Lorenza Ippolito.The seed is a representation of hope. It represents renewal and independence for rural Indian communities.They are together the guardians and initiators of life.

Seed Keeping is an ancient occupation in India and farmers have done it for millennia. Seed keepers are farmers that in addition to their work in the fields have the responsibility of putting part of their harvest aside as seed for the next crop rotation.They select, dry and conserve these seeds to then exchange them with other farmers.“Free exchange among farmers goes beyond mere exchange of seeds: it also involves exchange of ideas and knowledge, of culture and heritage. It is an accumulation of tradition, of knowledge of how to work the seed” (Seed Dictatorship and Food Fascism by Vandana Shiva ed. Navdanya).

During a three month period of research in India I spent a week at Bija Vidyapeeth on Navdanya Agrobiodiversity Conservation and Ecological Farm close to Dehra Dun in Uttarkand. Here I talked to three seed keepers Bija, Bindu and Sheila. Seed keeping for them is a family affair.

Indian traditional seed keeping is a vast subject I am just starting to understand. A comparatively easy concept is the way multinationals are trying to take over tradition with hybridised and GM seeds. In the specific case of India, there are strong pressures to substitute traditional, local seeds with branded, sterile seeds, fertilizer and pesticides, first giving them out free, then once the soil has been impoverished and contaminated, for a price.This has led to call the mono-cultured, cotton growing belt that runs through the centre north of India,The Suicide Belt. Here, farmers get so much into debt that they end up committing suicide by drinking the same pesticide that they can no longer afford.

Another problem that multinationals are creating through their false rhetoric of technology-to-feed-the-world, is the disappearance of an outstanding amount of seeds varieties that are just right for that specific climate and soil. In fifty years the Indian rice varieties have gone from more than 2000 to just over 600. During the Green Revolution in the sixties, hybridised wheat seeds were introduced into India of the Mexican Dwarf variety.These became mono-cultures of extensive nature, which the companies marketed and sold as high yielding crops that would solve India’s food crisis.They did, but only for a few years, after which the soil became increasingly infertile and the amount of water necessary for this foreign seed to grow left the country in a renewed water crisis.

Nowadays, Monsanto is trying to patent – hence to own – native plant varieties such as the Neem Tree and some varieties of basmati rice.With its army of lawyers, political ties and money – a net profit of $7billion in 2012 – it is buying the right to own nature. Farmers are loosing not only their knowledge of seed keeping, but also their confidence in what they know.They are casting aside a lot of complex community binding rituals that go through their cultural tradition. As a consequence seeds are disappearing and the communities are becoming weaker.

Better education about the long-term consequences of using GM or hybrid seeds, fertilizers and pesticides for farmers is needed. In India, organisations like Navdanya have created a “seed freedom” movement helping to conserve knowledge where possible, train and educate local farmers, prevent the loss of local plant species and creating biodiversity-based and organic agriculture. Such organizations, though, have to compete with multinationals and even government recommendations on a small budget, so they need support and public awareness.

Seed to Seed – The video

Seed to Seed will be a video exploring the idea of seed keeping traditions in India, as well as representing an intimate portrait of an uncomfortable situation which will potentially affect millions of people.The work includes artist film, as well as a collaboration with agricultural education organisation Navdanya in India and potentially a seed banks in the UK.

In Seed to Seed, I wish to juxtapose sound and images as two different elements in dialog with each other.

The sound is a triangulated conversation between the artist, the translator and the seed keeper. In this three-part dialogue the inter-cultural element is inscribed within the averaging (rounding up to the closest unit) of meaning. The

question “What is lost in translation?” becomes apparent.The conversation also contains the political aspect of my work, where the different seed keepers describe what they do and how this knowledge was passed on to them from family and neighbours.They describe varieties of rice and what they are good for, how to use plants to heal oneself and generally talk about their life working in the fields.

In September I will be organising a workshop at Fabrica as part of the Brighton Digital Festival 2013 where I will ask a mixed audience of Indian and British heritage to contribute conceptually to my work by listening and commenting on the seed keepers conversations. In response to this, I will then develop the piece further.

The landscape depicted in the moving image – the backwaters of Kerala in the South West of India – is very distant from the place where the interviewed seed keepers live – the foothills of the Himalayas. In bringing together two realities so geographically distant from each other, I wish to bring to the surface the multifaceted nature of the Indian subcontinent, but also underline that seed keeping is happening throughout India, amongst other things as a form of resistance to commercial, globalised profit driven pressures.

The landscape and sound also have a meditative aspect to them.The steady pace of the images passing by and the voice of the seed keepers are both rhythmic and draw the spectator in.

The film will be shown moving in Brighton in November 2013, with accompanying talks and workshops exploring the ideas around seeds and their meaning in different culture.This will also be integrated with a collaboration with Asian communities in the UK.

Seed to Seed aims to then tour to galleries throughout the UK and possibly India.