ab ovo, 2008

Mixed media installation: glass, foam, wood, lights, clove-studded oranges, lime grass, gourds, lemons, sponge cakes, bananas, poinciana pods, DNA models, chestnuts, Port Jackson shark eggs, used grape skins, avocado skins, sunflowers, grapefruit skins, coconuts, fungus, ginseng, corks, corncobs, cycad seeds, eucalypt seeds, sea-foam, Tasmanian gum-nuts, crab shells, bones, kelp, redwood pinecones, durian, beets, persimmon, moth flower and laboratory glove compartment.
Dimensions: 6 x 26 x 1 ft


photo: MN Hutchinson

ab ovo refers to the beginnings of life. Seeds are considered time capsules of life and without them life on earth would be drastically changed forever.

Seed banks have been established by almost every country to protect and store their national heritage of wild and crop seeds for future generations. The Vasilov Institute of Plant Industry in St. Petersburg is one of the oldest and the most recent seed bank opened on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard in 2006. Others have not fared so well - Iraq’s in Abu Ghraib was destroyed in the US invasion and the Taliban looted Afghanistan’s in Ghazni and Jalalabad. The Philippines, Honduras and Nicaragua all lost their seed banks to typhoons, hurricanes and earthquakes.

This exhibition has been inspired by the work of the Millennium Seed Bank that was set up in 2000 in Wakefield Place just outside of London. To date the Millennium Seed Bank has collected and classified over 3000 seed varieties from 48 different countries. By the year 2010 the bank aims to have conserved over 10% of the 242,000 species of world seeds. These seeds have already been used as start-up stock in countries where their own stocks have been destroyed.

The incredible images produced by the electron microscope has given us such a detailed view of miniscule seeds that we can now see the elaborate structure of these little forms. This information has assisted scientists to determine what are the characteristics that help with germination and ensure an inbuilt resistance to extinction.

Lyndal Osborne, 2008

To view ab ovo in extreme close up click on: Extreme Close Up

  detail (glove compartment)  

  detail photo: MN Hutchinson


detail (foam, paint)


detail (Tasmanian gum nuts)

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