ODL fellow Callum Cooper’s latest installation ‘Vavilov: The Correct Planting of Cabbage Seedlings’ is on view at HOME in Manchester for 14 weeks as a part of the show The Return of Memory. The end of the exhibition will be marked by an event/dinner, Vavilov’s Last Supper, that will be created in collaboration with chef Mary-Ellen McTague.

Vavilov: The Correct Planting of Cabbage Seedlings – Description

Callum Cooper’s Vavilov is a live, growing installation that starts with one of the world’s oldest seed banks and journeys through the fascinating story of the Soviet botanist and geneticist Nikolai Vavilov to Greater Manchester allotments, a local college, and into an open-source robotics community. Vavilov was a scientist who pioneered modern genetics, working with the leading figures of his time to cultivate crops that would grow in any environment and end world hunger. The ultimate irony would be his death in a gulag from starvation.

During the 872 day Leningrad Siege in WW2, the city’s population was cut off from food supplies. The Vavilov institute distributed seeds from its collection to the community saving thousands of people from starvation.

At the centre of the installation is a Farmbot that cultivates the same cabbage seeds distributed by the Vavilov Institute during the siege. The robot is trained from the instructional pamphlets that were distributed by the institute to Leningrad’s trapped population.