Seeds of Change, a lecture by Maria Thereza Alves

Open Lecture

The artist will present Seeds of Change, 2005, a project that deals with ‘ballast flora’, an area of botanical study that has been marginalised for bearing direct links with the slave trade.

A more detailed description on the subject taken from Frieze Magazine:

“Today modern cargo ships take on water as ballast to stabilize an unloaded vessel, but in previous eras of maritime trade sailing ships would use earth, stones or sand as ballast if their load of colonial goods was too light – material that could easily be discarded to free up the ship to pick up profitable slaves. Consequently over thousands of years tonnes of this filler material and its attendant seeds and organic matter from the new world was dumped ashore on arrival around the major port cities of Europe. For her ‘Seeds of Change’ projects in Marseille, Liverpool, Exeter, Bristol, Dunkirk and other sites – always where no previous studies of ballast flora have been undertaken – Alves sought the location of ballast spoil sites through old maps, port records and rumour, taken earth samples and endeavoured to germinate whatever archaic seeds have been lying dormant in the substrate. The resultant presentations have gathered the textual and photographic evidence – as well as the plants themselves – and often involved the collaboration of local residents.”

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    TrAIN Open Series

    The TrAIN Open series is a forum for invited speakers to present exhibition, publication, and research projects in the form of lectures, discussions and screenings.

    Taking place at fortnightly intervals on Wednesday evenings during the academic term, the series is open to the public, as well as staff and students across the University of the Arts London.
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