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Exploring unusual aspects connected to seeds

By Clare Newton FRSA

6th June – 28th August 2023

Exploring the Seeds of Change at Gilbert White’s House & Gardens

 Gilbert White’s House & Gardens is working with artist Clare Newton FRSA for the premiere of her new work Seeds of Change in this new exhibition.

The exhibition which starts on the 6th June and runs till the end of August at the Selborne museum, tells an alternative story about seeds and how they are inspiring contemporary scientists with their natural ingenuity.  The artist Clare Newton has travelled the length and breadth of Britain in search of the most intriguing aspects of seeds. This work has resulted in incredible images and stories about the adventures and people she has met along the way.

The exhibition shows us what us humans learn from nature. Newton visited Queen’s University Belfast to learn more about a project based on the germination of seeds called ‘Cyber Seeds’, where scientists are discovering how humans may be able to “Grow” bridges and other feats of mechanical engineering!

Another project that has been inspired by seeds is the ‘Powerless flight of seeds.’ A scientific team in Edinburgh University has discovered that the dandelion seed is the most effective and stable flyer of all the hairy/pappus seeds. The team have been experimenting on how to make an imitation seed from which to suspend a computer. Their ambition is to create energy-free flight so that one day biologists can analyze climate change on the wind and send back complex reports to the labs.

The exhibition does not only look to the future, whilst visiting the Heritage Seed library, Newton examined seed specimens which people all around the country have been sending in, many of which have a story to tell. The exhibition covers heirlooms and heritage plants that have not changed their genetics for centuries and shows how historical seeds could help save our future.

The exhibition consists of a series of composite photographs, microscopic images of seeds, interviews with scientists and video sketches to convey the wonder of current research into how seeds are informing horticultural development and non- horticultural areas of science. Bringing together inspiring stories and visual trails for the public to enjoy.

Clare Newton has exhibited her past work widely and was inspired by Selborne to embark on this project, she has also published a nature book “Colour of Silence” heralded by BBC TV Nature Presenter Kate Humble.

The exhibition runs from the 6th June till the 28th August and is free to view with normal house and garden admission. Newton’s book is on sale in the museum’s gift shop. Please see our website for any related events.

    Gilbert Whites House

    Gilbert White was aged 7 or 8 when the White family moved from the Vicarage on Selborne’s Plestor, to this house, called ‘The Wakes’ (named after the Wake family who had lived here previously). At that time the property would have been no more than a ‘two up, two down’  but over the subsequent years lots of extensions and additions have been made, creating the long sizeable house you see today.

    The rooms have been restored following descriptions in White’s own correspondence and include a chair he used at Oriel College, Oxford (loaned from the College), items of contemporary furniture, family portraits and bed hangings embroidered for him by his aunts.

    On display is the original manuscript of his book, The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, which was purchased with generous help from English Heritage and others.

    Learn more