Irish Seed Savers Collaborate with Artist Rachel Doolin
Irish Seed Savers Association are delighted to have collaborated with visual artist Rachel Doolin to create a national exhibition. This exciting project is part of our focus to raise awareness about the importance of seed sovereignty, biodiversity, food security and our food heritage.
The exhibition titled HEIRLOOM launched in the Lexicon Cultural Centre in Dún Laoghaire in December 2022, running until March 2023 where the exhibition was held at the LHQ Gallery, Cork County Library until April 2023.
This is a super exciting collaboration and celebration of seeds with an artist who has been working in the background with Irish Seed Savers for many years. The concept behind the exhibition stems from Rachel’s visit to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault during an artist residency in the high arctic in 2017. In 2019, Rachel contacted Irish Seed Savers to discuss the potential for creating a seed focused exhibition that will present many aspects and stories relating to the ‘seeds of today’. The project was supported through the DLR Lexicon Visual Arts Commission Exhibition Award and an Arts Council of Ireland Visual Arts Project Award.
For this exhibition Rachel created a sculptural installation titled SEEDARIUM – a sacred space where viewers are able to enter and ponder the beauty and profundity of seeds. For this sculptural piece, Rachel and Irish Seed Savers invited our community of growers, seed advocates, individuals, cultivators, weeders, waterers, minders, and seed savers to contribute through submitting seed contributions for exhibition within the SEEDARIUM sculpture. In total 32 people contributed seeds for the SEEDARIUM. A book of contributors that lists the seeds, the collectors and their words is exhibited alongside the SEEDARIUM.
The exhibition is focused on two main interactive installation-based works, Seedcloud and Seedarium. The ideas behind these works manifested organically through multiple conversations with persons working with or connected to Irish Seed Savers Association. It was through these formative interactions that Rachel was inspired to create work that not only sheds light on the concept of seed sovereignty and its implications for our food systems, cultural heritage and ecological resilience. But to also create an exhibition that celebrates the profundity of seeds, honouring their incredible diversity and resilience and conveying the intricate relationship between seeds, nature and human communities.
SEEDARIUM is a sculptural installation that houses a community archive of seeds within its core. The original idea for creating this work came to Rachel while visiting the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Esperanza in Calasparra, Spain, which translates as the ‘Sanctuary of Hope’. The Sanctuary of Hope is a place of worship housed in a cave that has been carved out of a facade of solid rock. Rachel drew comparisons between this cavernous place of worship and her interpretation of the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway, a subterranean ‘sanctuary of seeds’ sleeping beneath a permafrost mountain. The seeds housed within SEEDARIUM are not presented for their hierarchical or scientific relevance but rather represent a holistic connection to the individual who donated them. Over several months during the making of the work Rachel received many packages of seeds, generously donated by gardeners, gatherers, growers, advocates and conservationists, both nationally and internationally. It was this collective collaboration, which invited the conscious act of gathering and gifting seeds for the project, that directed and shaped the final work.
In May 2023 the SEEEDARIUM sculptural installation was selected for the Sculpture in Context Exhibition 2023 at the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin. Sculpture in Context is a pivotal event in the Irish arts calendar and is the longest running, largest and most important sculpture exhibition in Ireland. The event launched with an award ceremony on September 5th where Rachel Doolin’s SEEDARIUM sculpture won the Halpin-Hellier Sculpture in Context Award for an artwork of distinction and the CARO Climate Action Award for the most innovative sculpture linked to Climate Change Action.
To learn more about Rachel and her work visit www.racheldoolin.com