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Seedscapes: Future-Proofing Nature

Seedscapes exhibition offers seeds of hope despite the current biodiversity crisis.

Seedscapes at Impressions Gallery
Installation shot: Seedscapes at Impressions Gallery

Impressions Gallery has re-opened with a new exhibition – Seedscapes: Future-Proofing Nature.

The exhibition features works by Dornith Doherty, Sant Khalsa, Chrystel Lebas, Heidi Morstang, and Liz Orton.

It runs at Impressions until 12 December 2020.

For visitors who prefer not to visit in person, Impressions has commissioned an online virtual exhibition.

This will allow visitors to ‘walk through’ the gallery, interact with artworks and watch films.

Following its time at Impressions, Seedscapes will embark on a national tour to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery and The Dick Institute.

Anne McNeill, director of Impressions Gallery, said: “We are proud to be re-opening the gallery with Seedscapes.

“The exhibition offers insights into the current biodiversity crisis, whilst providing the seeds of hope and resilience.”


Seedscapes brings together five contemporary artists exploring global efforts to safeguard vital plant species from extinction.

In a world shaped by COVID-19, it seems more important than ever to consider nature, biodiversity, and the environment.

Plant diversity is rapidly declining, facing threats from global warming, pollution and war.

Yet without seeds and their potential for food and medicine, we cannot sustain ourselves.

Featuring photography, moving image and sculpture, Seedscapes reveals how international artists, biologists and ecologists are responding to these challenges.

Professor Liz Wells, curator, said: “Seedscapes brings together art, biodiversity and eco-activism.

“My hope is that viewers will gain a deeper understanding of the fragility of our natural world and the efforts we need to make to protect it.”

Dornith Doherty's Husk Corn image is featured in Seedscapes
Husk Corn, from the series Archiving Eden (2008-2017), © Dornith Doherty

Dornith Doherty

Dornith Doherty has worked with renowned biologists at some of the most comprehensive seed banks in the world.

Archiving Eden reveals repositories ranging from an antique wood-panelled herbarium in St Petersburg to a hi-tech biogenics lab in Brasília.

In a companion series using scientific imaging systems, Doherty has created ethereal composites of seeds in ‘suspended animation’.

As well as works on paper, she produces beguiling lenticular images that change when seen from different angles.

The seeds appear to magically flicker into life as the viewer approaches.

Sant Khalsa

Almost 30 years ago, artist and eco-activist Sant Khalsa planted more than 1,000 ponderosa pine seedlings to help re-forest Holcomb Valley.

The valley in the Southern California mountains had been clear-cut by settlers during the 1860’s gold rush.

Growing Air documents Khalsa’s ongoing relationship with this evolving forest, in photographs and video.

The series Trees and Seedlings combines lengths of poplar wood with high contrast images of trees in the aftermath of forest fires.

These intriguing and fragile objects lean against the wall like planks of wood in a lumber yard.

As light moves through the transparent photographs, images are projected on the surrounding surface.

Chrystel Lebas' image of London Rocket, part of the Seedscapes exhibition
Sisymbrium irio L.– London Rocket 0 Yellow 130 Magenta 20 Cyan 25s From the series Weeds and Aliens Studies (2013 and ongoing) © Chrystel Lebas

Chrystel Lebas

Working with the Natural History Museum, Chrystel Lebas has followed in the footsteps of early 20th century botanist E.J. Salisbury to photograph natural habitats almost 100 years later.

Field Studies: Walking through Landscapes and Archives, places Lebas large-scale colour photographs alongside prints of Salisbury’s original glass plates.

A companion series of photograms depicts London Rocket.

The plant became abundant after the Great Fire of London in 1666 but by the 1940s it had virtually disappeared.

Lebas’ photograms of a lone specimen found near her studio in South London elevate the simple weed to an object of beauty.

Heidi Morstang

Heidi Morstang’s film takes the viewer on a mesmerising journey to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Arctic Norwegian Archipelago.

Located deep inside an Arctic mountain in the permafrost, this purpose-built facility is the largest secure seed storage in the world.

It safeguards one third of the world’s food crop seeds.

A new series of electron micrographs explores the interiors of seeds from the ‘arctic oasis’ of Ringhorndalen in Svalbard.

The images evoke other-wordly landscapes rich in complexity.

An image from Liz Orton's Splitters and Lumpers series which is featured in Seedscapes.
Untitled from Splitters and Lumpers (2012) © Liz Orton

Liz Orton

Liz Orton gained special access to the Herbarium at Kew to photograph bundles of specimens collected and donated from across the globe.

Her ‘cross-sections’ reveal stems, seeds and leaves peeping out from rudimentary packaging materials.

The title, Splitters and Lumpers, refers to the subjective processes of classification used by taxonomists aiming to build a complete scientific picture of plant life on our planet.

Herbarium of Extinction is a new artwork made specifically for Seedscapes.

It features images of mounted specimens from the Herbarium.

Presented as a hand-made concertina book, this work evokes the beauty and fragility of the archive rarely seen by non-specialists.

Exhibition details

An Impressions Gallery touring exhibition curated by Liz Wells in association with Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery and The Dick Institute:

  • Impressions Gallery, Bradford: September 2 to December 12 2020
  • Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter: February 6 to May 2 2021
  • The Dick Institute, Kilmarnock: autumn 2021

Spectrum Photographic is the print partner for the exhibition.

Impressions Gallery