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Seeds of Change: A ballast seed garden for Bristol

13 July 2010

Seeds of Change is an ongoing investigation of ballast flora in European port cities by artist Maria Thereza Alves. The project was part of the 2007 Arnolfini exhibition Port City, with the artist undertaking a period of research to find and photograph possible ballast sites around the river Avon and Bristol's Harbourside.

Seeds of Change is an ongoing investigation of ballast flora in European port cities by artist Maria Thereza Alves. The project was part of the 2007 Arnolfini exhibition Port City, with the artist undertaking a period of research to find and photograph possible ballast sites around the river Avon and Bristol's Harbourside.

For hundreds of years, earth and sand was used as ballast in Bristol's ships as they followed the Triangular Trade Route from Africa to the US and the West Indies, and back to the UK. As they unloaded their cargo and ballast in Bristol docks, exotic plants began to flourish on the Avon's banks, a testament to these journeys, and to the people who made them, many of whom never arrived.

Seeds from some of these plants can still be germinated from this ballast, as witnesses to the commerical history of Bristol and of its communities. A possible site for a Bristol Ballast Seed Garden has been identified at the point where the 'cut' and docks meet the river Avon, and an initial seed garden has been planted at the University Botanic Garden.

Plants would be seeded from the original ballast, protected by small wind breaks. Signage providing information would be developed maintaining the essential character of the space. Outline approval to use this land has been obtained from the Bristol Council, subject to a public consultation period, which was begun by this week's discussion event and tours at the University Botanic Garden.

If you'd like to contribute or comment on these plans, please visit the Seeds of Change website to add your thoughts.
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