London 2012 Festival in Bristol

21 06 2012

A ballast seed garden planted on a barge on the Floating Harbour by Castle Park is open to the public by appointment from today. Seeds of Change by Brazillian artist Maria Thereza Alves is the most visible element of the London 2012 Festival in Bristol. So far.

Seeds of Change has Bristol’s trading history at its heart, as ballast containing earth, stones and gravel was used to weigh down trading ships from all over the world as they docked, and later offloaded into the harbour.

Alves discovered that ballast seeds can lie dormant for hundreds of years, but by excavating the river bed, it is possible to germinate and grow these seeds into flourishing plants.

The aim is to populate the barge with a variety of non-native plants, “creating a living history of the city’s trade and maritime past”.

The design of the floating garden was developed by designer Gitta Gschwendtner in close collaboration with Alves and Nick Wray of the University of Bristol’s Botanic Garden; Bristol City Council landscape architect Lucy Empson; and the Arnolfini.

Here is the ballast seed garden yesterday as it was given some finishing touches:

Other Cultural Olympiad events in Bristol include:

  • Devoted and Disgruntled, Tobacco Factory Theatre, June 30 – July 1; a nationwide conversation inspired by theatre;
  • Ping Pong, Watershed, July 9; screening and Q&A of the documentary film about the over-80 World Table Tennis Championships;
  • Tyntesfield Takeover, July 22; a digital graffiti light show projection presented by somewhereto_ and the National Trust;
  • See No Evil, city centre location, August 16-19; the second year of the huge graffiti festival which last year took over Nelson Street;
  • Sacrilege by Jeremy Deller, College Green, August 18; life-size replica of Stonehenge made as a fully operational bouncy castle;
  • Red Baraat, St George’s, September 10; the debut UK tour of the New York bhangra, funk and dhol ‘n’ brass outfit.

For full event details, visit



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