Future Seeds – Kew National Tree Seed Project

Watch my film Future Seeds: an adventure with wind, trees and people now. (Running time 21 minutes – join for as long as you like!).

Residency with Kew’s UK National Tree Seed Project

Between August and December 2019 I worked on a residency alongside staff and volunteers with the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew’s UK National Tree Seed Project . The Project, which was completed in March 2020, was a response to the increasing threats to the UK’s indigenous tree populations from development and agriculture, environmental change and imported pests and diseases. By collecting representative samples of seeds from stands of ancient woodland in each of the Forestry Commission Seed Zones, the aim is to capture the genetic diversity of all 76 native tree species whose seeds are suitable for long-term storage in a seed bank.

I went on three field trips collecting seed – in the West Midlands, Dumfries and Galloway & Lothian and Yorkshire – collecting seeds as varied as alder blackthorn, wild service tree, purging buckthorn, wayfaring tree, ash, spindle, holly & small leaved lime. I interviewed a number of Kew’s tree scientists, volunteers and partners on the Project as well as visiting the Herbaruim at Kew and the Millennium Seed Bank where I observed the seeds being frozen and preserved in the seed bank at Wakehurst Place.

Work inspired by the residency

I have made a film Future Seeds: an adventure with wind, trees and people as a result of my residency. Running for 21 minutes it features the multiple voices of the trees, those involved in the project and the almost ever-present wind.

I have also begun on a series of experimental prints directly from leaves, fruits and branches harvested from trees in north London. Inspired by the herbarium specimens collected with the seeds, this plant material was first flattened in a press and then used directly on the printing press, passing them through the rollers multiple times. I intend to return to these experiments in order to produce further prints once I again have access to a printing press.

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©2020 Phil Barton