Felicia Olusanya and Grace Wilentz in collaboration with the SEED Collective
Designed and handmade by Éilís Murphy // Folded Leaf
Funded by the Arts Council Artist in the Community Scheme, managed by Create
SEED: objects of wonder is a new mixed media journal of art and writing, devised by writers Felicia Olusanya and Grace Wilentz. Aware of virtual platform fatigue resulting from the pandemic, and a revived interest in receiving beautiful mail, the pair came up with the idea of making a paper ‘cabinet of curiosities’ in which a curated selection of prints, poetry, interviews, film stills, recipes, photographs and crafts can be found.
While Olusanya and Wilentz are the driving forces behind SEED, its vision is a collective one. The SEED collective is made up of artists and activists aiming to rethink ways of curating and communicating, and expanding the imaginative potential of what a journal can be. It is hoped that the journal will bring joy and inspiration, providing an introduction to a few new artists, and be something special to keep and to share. The ‘collective imagination’ behind SEED includes activists, thought leaders, curators and creators: Diana Bamimeke, Natasha Doyle-Merrick, Farah Elle, Deji Gbede, Rima Hamid, Claudia Hoareau, Diane Ihirwe, Najet Kadri and Soraya Sobrevía.
The vision for SEED is to get writers, artists, craftspeople and other creatives collaborating around common themes and responding to each other’s work . SEED is led by diverse perspectives at the editorial and conceptual levels, contributing some way towards helping fill a gap in Irish literary and arts journal offerings.
SEED was born during the pandemic, and so the project unfolded through monthly online zoom meetings. While it was hoped that we might be able to transition to in-person meetings, with the lifting and return of restrictions, and a team spread across the country, those systems or working together created during the first months of Covid-19 restrictions carried us all the way through. A series of Google drive folders enabled collaboration and co-creation across counties in between meetings, and all editorial decision-making and production was coordinated through this system of sharing submissions, drafts, images and ideas.
Issue 1 of the journal was launched in June 2021 and contained responses to the theme of ‘ancestors’. This broad theme contributed to the development of work that looks at how younger artists are interpreting, protecting and transforming traditions of the past, while stepping into the role of ‘ancestors in training’ for future generations.
In the first issue of the journal, readers could enjoy something to read, something to eat, things to look at and listen to, to watch, to keep, and something to plant for a new season. Alongside curated poems, photographs and new writing is a yoga sequence on plantable seed paper, and QR codes leading you to a short film, a music video and a Spotify playlist from one of Ireland’s best DJs. Issue 1 contributors included: Andeso, Bailey Barbour, Gabriela Concha Valcárcel, Fatima Halawa, Malika Iskander, MFula Designs, Risada, Vanessa Rae, Tara Stewart and Brian Teeling.
Issue 2 of the journal, launched in November 2021, contained responses to the theme of ‘labyrinths’. In Greek mythology, the labyrinth is an elaborate maze. For artists working today, it holds symbolic and psychological significance as we try to find our way through a world deeply challenged by climate change and the pandemic, pursuing glimmers of hope.
The second issue brought work in a fresh and inventive format. A true ‘cabinet of curiosities’, in this edition readers find poems, and works ranging from illustration to photography to painting and sculpture. There is also street art, two collaborations, and even a workshop invitation for a meditative arts practice which promises to bring you back to a place of presence and peace as the new year comes into itself. Issue 2 contributors included: Ala Buisir, Elaine Deely, Fiona Ginnell, Paul Granthon, Róisín Power Hackett, Rebecca Kehoe, Debbi Kenote, Jano Klimas, Helio Leon, Japhy Ryder, Simone Siss, Soraya Sobrevía, Uzo and Grace Wells.
The concept of both issues visually expands on the joyfulness of surprises arriving by post. Each issue is presented in a unique, bespoke format, designed and hand-bound by Éilís Murphy // Folded Leaf. Éilís Murphy is a multidisciplinary artist who visualises the book in a different way, creating interactive and tactile spaces for audiences to engage with. Folded Leaf is Éilís’ publishing and bookbinding press, which creates handmade and limited edition books often in collaboration with other creatives.
Project progress and changes in course have been tracked through our online folders, notes, photographs and more. To close out the project, gather honest feedback, and to build the vision for future years of SEED, an anonymous evaluation survey was circulated to all collective members and contributors.
The minds behind SEED hope that the project adds value by pushing the boundaries of what a journal can be and do. It also adds to the field as it is led by a team of artists and activists who are from, and active within, multiple communities whose work and perspectives are underrepresented in Irish arts. The project seeks to build solidarity across experiences bringing together artwork which connects to diverse perspectives and social movements.
The first issue of SEED sold out in just 7 hours, and so the team decided to double the print run for issue 2, collaborating with and platforming more incredible underground artists. The issue can be found here.