Seeds come in as many different shapes and sizes as the plants that they become. From the world’s smallest, the Orchid seed, which is the size of a speck of dust, to the world’s largest, the seed of the Coco de Mer, native to the Seychelles, which can weigh up to 20kg, their diversity is inspiring. Seeds also have a fascinating range of dispersal methods. Some float, some fly, some stick, and some burst. Some even disguise themselves as faeces so that dung beetles will bury them! Most importantly, seeds contain the potential to reproduce themselves and the energy to nourish us and our non-human kin.

This part of the exhibition aims to immerse you in a seed cosmology using all the senses. We have portrayed and enlarged some of our favourite seeds.

Holding an imaginary magnifying glass upon these tiny wonders, which are the basis of human and planetary survival but are overlooked because of their size and ephemeral nature, we want to pay tribute to their beauty and diversity. We also want to highlight their vibrancy and have produced soundscapes that reveal the hidden sound world of seeds and the rich environments within which they germinate.

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SIGHT

 

A constellation of some of OmVed's favourite seeds illustrated by visual artist Maia Magoga.

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Hopi Black Bean

Lambs Lettuce

Tim's Giant Sunflower

Scarlet Runner Bean

Gaia Soy Bean

Stowells Evergreen Corn

Ethiopian Cabbage

Borlotti Bean

Caribbean Crush Nasturtium

Maia Magoga

Maia Magoga is a London-born visual artist and cook of mixed Brazilian and Argentinian descent. Growing up, food was the primary love language in her home. She inherited a fondness for the potential of food to carve out loving spaces- spaces of care + nourishment that simultaneously feed a sense of belonging. Her practice continues to foreground the boundless potential of food as metaphor to address conversations around ecology, the geo-political and ancestral ways of knowing. She works with food as both subject and object.

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HEARING

Musician and wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson, together with audiovisual artist, Julian Simmons have created a bespoke soundscape of Himalayan Balsam seeds erupting from their seed pods and the extraordinary activity within a garden compost heap.

Himalayan Balsam seeds erupting from their seed pods

Sound recorded by Chris Watson and processed with slow down factors of up to 1000x by Julian Simmons

"For most of us the idea of what a ‘seed pod pop’ (or any other short micro event) might sound like, is informed from seeing Natural History documentaries using slow-motion footage - and the sound effects that go with them. These sound effects are artificially created in a Foley studio with ready-to-hand objects. Seed pops as Foley sound effects are usually made by striking a pillow with a drum stick then scattering glass and wooden beads. The actual events are not so clear cut, within what is actually just a tick, there is texture, but not so discreet as scattered beads, more of a layered tearing sound.

At modest slow-down factors, the seeds eruption sounds somewhat like a firework - I start with these 100x slow-downs, then follow with much slower factors, 200x and 300x then introduce 500x to 1000x. In these much slower factors the different parts within the tick event become more apparent."

- Julian Simmons

Chris Watson's Compost Heap

Sound recorded by Chris Watson in April 2022

Chris Watson

Chris Watson is one of the world's foremost sound recordists with a particular and passionate interest in the sounds of animals and habitats from around the world.

Watson was a founding member of the influential Sheffield based experimental music group Cabaret Voltaire during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. As a freelance composer and sound recordist Watson specialises creating spatial sound installations which feature a strong sense and spirit of place.

His television work includes many programmes in the David Attenborough ‘Life’ series including ‘The Life of Birds’ which won a BAFTA Award for ‘Best Factual Sound’ in 1996, and as the location sound recordist for the BBC series ‘Frozen Planet’ which also won a BAFTA Award for ‘Best Factual Sound’ (2012).

Julian Simmons

Dr. Julian Simmons is a specialist high-frequency audio processing and surround-sound spatialisation quadraphonic electronic musician, instrument developer and composer.

SMELL, TASTE AND TOUCH

Visit the Seed Bar and learn how to save seed and use seeds in the kitchen with our kitchen demo and seed saving tips videos.

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