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Seeds of Change: Floating ballast seed garden

Date uploaded: June 20, 2012

‘Seeds of Change’ is the overall title of an ongoing ballast seed garden project from Brazillian artist Maria Thereza Alves. Between 1680 and the early 1900’s ships’ ballast – earth, stones and gravel from trade boats from all over the world used to weigh down the vessel as it docked- was offloaded into the river at Bristol. This ballast contained the seeds of plants from wherever the ship had sailed.

Maria Thereza Alves discovered that these ballast seeds can lie dormant for hundreds of years, but that by excavating the river bed, it is possible to germinate and grow these seeds into flourishing plants.

Artists: Maria Thereza Alves (collaboration with Gitta Gschwendtner)
Location: (View on Google maps)
Dates: 21st June onwards
Location: Floating Harbour (north side) between Bristol Bridge and Castle Park Water Taxi stop
Access: Visible from Castle Park. Access by appointment
Design: Gitta Gschwendtner

Working with the University of Bristol Botanic Garden, Arnolfini and Bristol City Council and utilising a disused grain barge, Maria Thereza Alves has created a Ballast Seed Garden on Bristol’s Floating Harbour, populated with variety of non-native plants, creating a living history of the city’s trade and maritime past.

The design of the floating garden has been developed by German designer Gitta Gschwendtner in close collaboration with the artist Maria Thereza Alves and Nick Wray of University of Bristol Botanic Garden; Lucy Empson, landscape architect (BCC), and Arnolfini. Engineering advice courtesy of Ramboll UK, plants and materials courtesy of the University of Bristol Botanic Garden and Bristol Parks. This project has been made possible with the kind support of Bristol Harbour Authority, with funding from the Ashley, Easton & Lawrence Hill Neighbourhood Partnership

Maria Thereza Alves
Maria Thereza Alves has recently exhibited in the Lyon Biennale, Guangzhou Triennale, Manifesta in Trento, the Prague Biennale and the Berlin Film Festival.  Other selected exhibits include: Michel Rein Galerie in Paris, RAM in Rome, Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, Fondazione Sandretto in Torino, Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol, Kunsthalle in Basel, San Francisco Art Institute, Ursula Walbröl Gallery in Düsseldorf, PAC in Milano, NBK in Berlin, Musée Portuaire in Dunkirk, Liverpool Biennale,  Palais Tokio in Paris, Culturegest in Lisbon, Werkleitz Biennale, Steirischer Herbst in Graz, Boxx in Brussels, Beursschouwburg in Brussels, Central Space Gallery in London, New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, Temistocles 44 in Mexico City, Casa del Lago in Mexico City, La Estacion Gallery in Cuernavaca, Bienal de Habana, and Kenkeleba House in New York.

Gitta Gschwendtner
Born in Germany in 1972, Gitta Gschwendtner moved to London in the early nineties to study design at Central Saint Martins, Kingston University and the Royal College of Art. Following graduation from the RCA furniture MA in 1998 she set up her independent design studio in London working on a diverse range of projects ranging from product, interior and exhibition design to public art installations for arts, cultural and corporate clients. Gitta’s studio focuses on conceptually rigorous, visually intriguing, functional design across several disciplines.

Other clients include British Council, Crafts Council, Design Museum, DuPont Corian, Geffrye Museum, Habitat, Innermost, Mathmos, Peugeot, Purves & Purves, Royal College of Art, Science Museum, Sony, Twentytwentyone, Victoria and Albert Museum and Wellcome Trust.

Seeds of Change: A Floating Ballast Seed Garden is part of the London 2012 Festival, a spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration from 21 June and running until 9 September 2012 bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK. For further information see: www.london2012.com/festival

Visit www.aprb.co.uk/projects/all-projects/2012/floating-ballast-garden

Ecballium Elaterium (the squirting cucumber)

Ecballium Elaterium (the squirting cucumber)