Elsom's Installation Project


In 1844, staunch Methodist, Isaac Elsom, established a rope & twine making business in Spalding. By 1885 the company was also selling seed and in 1914 the first trials ground was established alongside it's existing nursery and market garden business situated on the site of the modern day plant breeding station. During the 1920's and 30's, under the guidance of George and Bert Elsom, the company's seed business continued to grow, expanding from vegetables and flowers into cereals and forage crops with customers and suppliers now spread across the country and  abroad.

The aim of this collaboration of business and art, was to create a metal installation for Elsom Seeds. By working with the employees through six workshops they were taught skills in aluminium dyeing and printing, piercing metal and riveting skills. As part of the workshops they produced their own bangles and mini installation. They also designed and cut a range of shapes that would become part of the final installation.

The final installation consisted of three discs. The discs were laser cut from mild steel which were then rusted to create an earth like texture. During the workshop many aluminium shapes were cut out ready for the final installation, the shapes to be cut out varied in difficulty so that everyone was able to confidently cut out a part for the final installation. The three discs represented a different story related to Elsom Seeds.

Disc one, depicts three ears of wheat. This was based on Mr Elsom whom when visiting village shows, always wore three ears of wheat in his button hole. This disc relates to the history of Elsom's and its founder.

Disc two, was reflecting the importance of seedlings within the business. In the greenhouses the seeds that are currently being tested are grown, by looking at how the seedlings are growing, they can gauge whether the plants will be up to standard. The seedlings are also examined under microscopes and the seeds are also placed in large drums with water to bring them to the point just before sprouting before they are packaged. The shapes on this disc are all different reflecting all the different people who work for Elsom's.

Disc three shows many bees. When visiting the factory it surprised me that they buy bees to release into the greenhouses. They arrive in a cardboard box in the post. There is so much information about how they work within the greenhouses. As they prefer different types of plant and certain bees are active different times of the day. I found the stories about how the bees are essential to their work fascinating.