Thursday, December 22, 2011

the year is drawing to a close...

Its been a quiet time of late yet little time for posting at this homage to the seed blog!

I've just added a post at my other blog before I get stuck in to my studio work. Pop over and read what's been happening there. From that post:

In my latest E-NEWSLETTER sent out last week I celebrated the people and places I visited on my UK Research Trip. Quite an exhausting process it was recalling details and documenting it all, checking facts and links, so much so that once it went out I more or less came to a stand still. On the computer that is.

Click here to read!

 The E-newsletter is a very comprehensive picture of the Uk experiences and introduces the places and various people I met. If you find the time do have a scroll through and perhaps take a link to read more about the Eden Project and Millennium Seedbank for starters.

a few images from Seed Capsules tumblr:

I will be back soon... 
          wishing you all a most pleasant holiday season and time to replenish for the coming year!

NB: several images were removed on Nov 30th due to unknown failure to load.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

putting together a Newsletter

Its been a huge week trying to collate all the stories that made up my UK Research Trip.
I'm just about to send it out... so I will post it here for you if you'd like to read it.

In the meantime a few photos...

A xmas present from a wonderful friend that I was delighted to receive the other day:

handmade goodies...

a seed necklace she found and polished up

                                                                   her own chai recipe

                                                                     seeds from her garden

Such a thoughtful, aromatic and throughly delightful gift! What are you creating this year to give?

NB: The previous post contained a video from U-tube that someone sent me recently. Don't know why I couldn't add text when reblogging the this is the reference:

Jeremiah "Jere" Gettle has always been passionate about saving seeds. He is the founder of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and speaks to CHOW at his seed bank in Petaluma, California.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Sunday, November 20, 2011

the last month...

In the last month so much has been happening I have not managed to keep up at this blog. When I first arrived in the UK on September 29th I kept commentary going on my blogs. That tailed off during the three weeks spent at the Millennium Seed Bank ... life became busier with each passing day. I have so many images and stories still to tell from that alone.

I left there on October 31st and settled for two weeks in London ... and hit the ground running to fit in all the places on my itinerary. I've yet to write that all up so I'll simply post some images here and make a point of returning to post as I sort through it all.

I squeezed in a two day trip to Paris Nov 6th and 7th and last week travelled home via Korea where I spent three fascinating days exploring Seoul... soon realising how much there was to explore if only time permitted!

Pages from my journal that I worked on at the MSB.

Images of x-rays of seeds that I used as basis for these two quick drawings. Staff working in this area were most helpful ...sharing information and images which they photocopied for me.

drawing of seed species at Kew MSB

Plant fossil drawing - Darwin Centre

In London I visited the Natural History Museum at South Kensington and spent an afternoon at the Darwin Centre on the left of the original Museum. 

Within the Darwin Centre is the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity ... open to anyone with an interest in UK natural history. Read more here about visiting this centre. 

(Text from the NHM website: )

Angela and Tony Marmont and the team at the Centre for UK Biodiversity
It is a hub for amateur naturalists, enthusiasts and other societies studying British wildlife. A place to investigate all aspects of the natural world, from animals, insects and plants to fossils and minerals. 
The centre responds to people’s concerns about UK biodiversity by taking a lead in the national citizen science debate.

What the centre offers

  • an identification and advisory service
  • a fully equipped visitor space for your own research
  • access to our UK reference collections and UK natural history library
  • workshop and meeting room facilities
  • hands-on resources and nature surveys

These photos are from the afternoon when I visited the Angela Marmont Centre ... drawing plant and seed fossils.

 I relished being able to go behind the scenes to view the fossil collections and make notes and drawings.

Kew Gardens
I also made appointments to spend time with staff at Kew Gardens Archives viewing the Art Collection on the fist visit and another day in the Archives where I had permission to photograph pages like the two entries below from journals belonging to Allan Cunningham, a Plant and Seed Collector in Australia in the early years of the English settlement. I will post further on the very rewarding experience at Kew Gardens.

Links from Kew Gardens Website:


Allan Cunningham (13 July 1791 – 27 June 1839) was an English botanist and explorer, primarily known for his travels in New South Wales (and elsewhere) to collect plants.



[from Wiki]

It was a challenge to photograph this material with my small camera... so I have picked two pages which were somewhat legible.

This one below itemises a long list of plant and seed collections made during his lifetime. Its a remarkable story in the light of the difficulty of travel, where he journeyed and what he managed to find. New Zealand was an important destination... he was the first collector to go there. Considerable time was spent around Brisbane, Moreton Bay and on the Darling Downs he is remembered as discovering the potential of that land for farming which proved right and prospered as a farming region in time.

Other fascinating places I visited around London I will discuss in other postings. Stay tuned.

Allan Cunningham 1791-1839

back soon with more...

But in case you are interested here's more on the collections at the MNH:

The Natural History Museum's vast collections comprise more than 70 million specimens from across the natural world, including specimens from the voyages of discovery by Darwin and Cook, material from the ill-fated dodo and meteorites from Mars. They cover virtually all groups of animals, plants, minerals and fossils, and include skins, cells on slides and whole animals preserved in alcohol. In total there are…
  • 55 million animals, including 28 million insects
  • 9 million fossils, including one of only six specimens of Archaeopteryx - the earliest known flying bird
  • 6 million lichen and plant specimens including algae, diatoms, ferns, mosses and seed plants
  • more than 500,000 rocks and minerals
  • 3,200 meteorites
The Museum also houses the world's finest natural history library. It is the largest collection of natural history library materials in the world and includes…
  • more than 1,000,000 printed books
  • 25,000 periodical titles
  • 500,000 original drawings, paintings and prints. This is the third largest collection of art in the UK!
  • 10,000 manuscripts
  • 75,000 maps
More than 850,000 'type' specimens are present in the Museum's collections. Type specimens are of great value as they are the unique representative of a species and the first specimen to earn the species name. Whenever the species comes under review, scientists will refer to the type for answers.
Technological advancements have meant that as well as traditional collections, the Museum is also home to cell and tissue cultures, DNA banks and other molecular records. These provide taxonomists with the means to conserve and study the genetic biology of plants and animals.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Drawing onsite at the Millennium Seed Bank

NB: 9TH DEC, 2013:  Apologies for the missing photos which I've just discovered here. Will be attempting to repost this soon! Sophie Munns

These are a few of the drawings from the past week or so. Excuse the brevity of my notes whilst posting so late tonight!

This image I found in the libary and was drawn to it ... being a fossil seed image... a cupole that was imprinted in the rock and if from Devon, England (late devonian period).

A jacaranda seed that I was able to put nder the Microsope to see in great detail... The jacaranda tree was omnipresent in the town I grew up in... and even though it is from South America it was well loved and adopted as if a native.

Acorn 'cups' I found walking the grounds

this one  have yet to get the name of... below is the other end of the pod.

these I picked up in Cornwall...
From Mexico

From South Africa
native to tropical America

From Lebanon .. up close this was an intriguing structure.
Below is the drawing I did when it was under the Microscope.

I'll be posting more images when possible. Its been a fascinating week indeed!

NB: just found the images not there- 28th January 2013. Don't know what has happened... 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day Two at the Millennium Seed Bank

I arrived at Wakehusrt Place in West Sussex from London yesterday morning and was ushered to comfortable quarters to settle in for the 3 week stay. Meeting staff anmd other residencts was an interesting process and added much to the feeling of welcome and being able to get oriented quite quickly.

Ive taken lots of photos already but they are yet to be downloaded ... so this image introduces where I am ... the greehouse is actually located above the rooms where residents stay ... and these three scuptured seeds are by the artist Peter Randall Page whose woprk was also at the Eden Project. Well worth viewing his website as well.

Read an article from Marina Warner at the Guardian on this sculptor here. Its titled
Heart of Stone:  relying on natural forms – hives, spider webs, nautilus shells – Peter Randall-Page's sculptures are deeply connected to pleasure and the comfort of physical contact, finds Marina Warner.

Ive set up a studio in my room and have a table I can work on outside in a courtyard in the daytime as well. Plus I have an invitation to work in the labs which I look forward to once I get going. My contact person,  Wolfganf Stuppy has been wonderfully helpful. His books are on my desk for inspiration ... along with seed samples from the lab.

This is one of the books that Wolfgang Stuppy has produced for publisher Papadakis...  with artist Rob Kesseler. This book has a third contributer Madeline Harvey.

well... I#ve just created this post in the library on a PC and Imust say its been ages since \i used anything other than my Mac this has been a slow and clumsy effort.

Back soon as possible... hopefully with photos to share from this amazing place!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The 'Seed' at the Core ... Eden Project Day 3

... encouraging respect and duty to hope for the future!

This most perfect of forms is a huge sculpture made of local granite by Peter Randall Page for "The Core" building at the Eden Project. (click on his name and read from his website about realising this work).

This space was quiet yet had such a tangible energy field...the work sitting as it does enclosed pod-like within walls that cocoon one in the space with the work. It was hard not to feel a sense of being in a place where the kind of collective effort that once manifested in pyramids and cathedrals was in evidence once more... even if not in the way we think symbolises grandness. Only this time the God being honoured seemed to be earth and life itself.This is the central core of a project cathedral-like in its audacity and its potency as a symbol for the future.

I have long hoped to come to this place... so being here, after not travelling far these past 23 years, does feel like a privilege. I am finding it mysteriously difficult to comprehend all-at-once the enormity of the project... and at the core of The Core of this project is this symbol called 'Seed'.

On Monday Richard Good, Creative Catalyst at EP, took me on a guided tour of the Pit which is the Eden Project... with a special detour to view this work at the centre of the project in more ways than one! The centre of a magnificent building known as The Core ... designed on the basis of the Fibonaci principal sits this potent sculpture.

The Core building from left

Inside the core... photos from the website - see more.

I'm presently sitting in the Foundation building where many work who are involved in the shaping of the public programs and key messages one way or another. Hearing everyone work, the meetings that take place...the cross-pollination and complex cross-overs ... provides much food for thought. One hears of the many challenges as well as successes that feed into the ongoing evolution of this forward thinking project.

Step into the bathroom where Dyson hand driers 'scrape' one's hands dry and use a tiny half the energy normally used by similar machines. The colourful office layout...the lunch room serving good quality food... the fact the major public eating place inside the complex is a bakery where long benches located in the midst of the room reveal the process to all.

As I type I think of place I must head to see something not yet investigated. I did a lot of walking Monday and Tuesday as the weather was warm and mostly clear... now the sky is grey, rain intermittent and might need to find a brolly! Lunchtime aromas are calling me... so I'll be off for now!

Ive lots more photos to share so I will be back. I you want to catch the post on the artistic inspiration I found on the weekend at picturesque St ives go to the Studio Archive blog. I will try to keep up to date as it makes it much easier in the long run with my documentation... so much I don't want to forget!

PS:  read this website page for an enlightening story about the copper roof on the Core Building...

What is a responsible metals and minerals supply chain?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day One at the Eden Project

If you pop over and read my other blog it gives a brief outline of my trip to the UK so far.

Presently in Cornwall I have the week on site at the Eden Project to take in this amazing project.

I took so many photos today... but there is a limit to what I can download tonight sitting in the bar of the hotel I'm staying at next to an old harbour in Charlestown... not too far from the EP.

So...I have just skimmed through and resized these photos... Eden Project is even more impressive than I imagined it to be. 

Really I should have taken a shot of what is there now ... from a distance... but my day was spent touring the site with someone from the creative team responsible for the way the Project is presented to the public in terms of artistic/cultural interpretations. Now I have a good idea of what the week offers ... people to meet ...places to investigate.

This is from the Tropical Biodome... I spent quite some ime walking through this amazing space.

One place that was quite a focal point was the new bakery.... the site of the weeks Cornwall Food Festival. There were demos and talks happening.

I was blown away by the size of the space and the fact the bakers work at very long wooden tables at one end of the room...

The other end of the room is where food is available.

Painting with food colours... inks made from beetroot, spirulina, turmeric, chilli and such.

I spent the late afternoon in the Library in the Foundation building.... browsing through all the titles and wishing there was time for reading!

Its very late... I have many more photos...but this at least is an introduction. Stay tuned for more on this place.

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