Installation and interactive map created for the Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show (June 2015)

By germinating seeds, we germinate ideas about alternatives to destructive industrial farming methods. A collection of seeds, seedlings and maps encapsulate cultures of food through history. This installation reflects the preliminary phases of the City Croft community garden project at the Edinburgh College of Art, a collaborative project that connects food origins with creative practice. Viewers are invited to engage with the project by participating in a collective act of seed germination.

The exhibition interactive digital component can be viewed here.

The installation also included a Germination Station, where new members can join the City Croft project by taking home a seed packet and documenting the progress of their seeds. Locations of the seeds distributed at the ECA Degree Show and at prior Germination Station pop-ups can be viewed on the map below.


Installation: Economic Growth

Economic Growth | Collaborative Installation: Nadia Dermatopoulou, Allison Palenske and Zhao Xie

Tent Gallery, Edinburgh College of Art 2015 Degree Show

As a biodiverse resource, forests have historically been linked to health and wellness, with many cultural traditions and mythologies derived from arboreal landscapes. The commodification of forests as a national product has had detrimental effects on the health of Scotland’s tree and plant species. With aggressive monoculture and plantations taking over the natural landscapes across the nation, much of the culture held within these forests has been lost.

Economic Growth is a collaborative work that addresses the effects of capitalism and industrialism on the forests of Scotland. A birch forest is recreated in the gallery space, with reiterations of the iconic Financial Times dominating the forest’s undergrowth. The double meaning of growth is used here to question the foundations of progress and economic wellness.

City Croft: Germinate

Germinate seeds, germinate ideas

Collaborative installation by Allison Palenske and Rebecca Willmott (MA Illustration) at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation for the 2015 Edinburgh International Science Festival

Read the Germinate exhibition booklet, with interactive installation map, here.

Through this articulation of spheres of food production, ranging from local to global, new ideas of how to maintain cultural resilience and food sustainability are germinated. This germination is part one of the City Croft garden project at the Edinburgh College of Art.

In this phase of the project, we are starting the conversation about the possibilities of urban growing, questioning how Edinburgh’s food system has changed through history and asking if we can revert to a more localised model that empowers communities. The installation also is an experiment in vertical seed germination, as the window in the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation Cafe becomes a germination station, utilising the natural light to feed tiny seeds with the nutrients that they need to grow and flourish. Alongside germinating seeds, we germinate ideas about the future of food within urban spaces.







We asked participants to contribute to the City Croft project by helping us germinate seeds for the garden, taking photos of progress and emailing these to, or posting to Twitter @citycroft. After starting the seeds indoors, we will organise a day to transplant the seedlings into the City Croft plot, or you can help us in widening the reach of the City Croft community by continuing to grow seedlings in your own growing space! The City Croft hub will be a communally operated garden, with harvests available to all who contribute their time or resources to the project.

Heritage: Corn Cultures

Installation created as part of the Story group exhibition at Tent Gallery

Heritage: Corn Cultures provokes consideration of the effects of monoculture on indigenous cultures of Latin America, particularly addressing the loss of heirloom/heritage corn species that are being considered increasingly less favourable to grow due to the demand for white corn. These ancient heirloom corn species hold significance to the myriad niche cultures of Latin America- but the looming threat of economic competition on the global food market forces many traditional farmers to sacrifice growing these socially significant crops for those that will be more profitable.


An art installation and interactive edible experience, created as part of the Arboreal group exhibition at Patriothall Gallery, 24 May-26 May 2014. Algae petri dishes provided by Dr. Sinead Collins at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology.

Inspired by fieldwork in the Black Wood of Rannoch, O-hOrizon amplified microorganisms through a sensory investigation and isolation of fungi, algae, lichens and insects.



 Installation and research output created as part of C group exhibition at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, during the 2014 Edinburgh International Science Festival

Research Question: How can algae can be used to redistribute the damage incurred by average consumptive behaviours?

This experiment was motivated by the desire to create a carbon neutral or carbon negative beverage, inspired by the beauty of the complex, green, super-power properties of these tiny algae to operate as carbon sinks for the modern-day emission levels.

Collaborating with the Collins lab at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology, The Dinner Lab created an installation and interactive edible experience to celebrate the power of algae.

This set of works exploring the ‘macro’ role of ‘micro’ algae within the carbon cycle, through its power of carbon absorption. The combination of wall installation, projection, and carbon-neutral themed cocktails explores algae’s versatility and potential for impact.

Video Installation: ‘pull the shades’

Multimedia installation with video, created as part of the Utopia group exhibition at Tent Gallery in November 2013

An investigative look at the juxtapositions between American suburban ideals and contemporary realities, “Pull the shades” incorporates symbols of suburban living. The recontextualization of window blinds as a projection surface symbolizes the containment of American suburban homes, as well as the prevalent role of the media, via television, in this context.