Thursday, 30 August 2012

Seeds of Change: Floating Ballast Seed Garden project in Bristol

The Floating Ballast Seed Garden by Maria Thereza Alves. 
Image copyright Jon Rowley/

I've been meaning to write about this project for a while but only just got round to it. I thought August was supposed to be quiet?? 

The Floating Ballast Seed Garden is a project by Brazilian artist Maria Thereza Alves and was designed by London-based German designer Gitta Gschwendtner

Between 1680 and the early 1900s 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.

The seed garden is populated with a variety of non-native plants, creating a living history of the city’s trade and maritime past.

The project is located on a disused grain barge in Bristol's Floating Harbour (north side) between Bristol Bridge and the Castle Park Water Taxi stops.

It was commissioned by Bristol City Council and the design was developed in close collaboration with the artist, Nick Wray of University of Bristol Botanic Garden, Lucy Empson, landscape architect at Bristol City Council and Arnolfini.

To find out more about the project and associated events happening throughout September and October, visit:

You can download the information leaflet from:

Intriguingly, the Daily Mail picked up the story, and didn't run it as 'Artists waste money on project in Bristol'. See:

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