Vavilov’s Last Supper

Artist Callum Cooper, working with Manchester chef Mary-Ellen McTague, brings his installation for The Return of Memory to a fitting conclusion. Over the course of the exhibition we have been collaborating with students of horticulture and regional allotment owners in an attempt to grow vegetables, seed and grain selected from the vaults of The Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry, St Petersburg – home to the world’s largest collection of plant seeds. The resulting crops will be harvested and combined with local seasonal produce to create a Christmas Borscht on the eve prior to Russian Christmas day, celebrated on 7 January.

Ticket holders will be invited to sit down alongside many of those involved in the growing of the food, where over the course of the evening we will discuss the legacy and relevance of Vavilov’s ideas that were to cost him and others their lives. We’ll be joined by artist Callum Cooper, curators Olya Sova and Anya Harrison of The New Social, local allotment growers and you, the public. We’d like to invite everyone to share a welcome drink before sitting down to share food created by Mary-Ellen McTague and hearing a short overview about Nikolai Vavilov (1887 – 1943) from agronomist Igor Loskutov, who joins us from The Vavilov Institute, St Petersburg.

Food will be informal and shared in bowls to hand around large tables seating up to 50 persons before a giant, Soviet-style mural backdrop by artist Victoria Lomasko. Please consider bringing a vegan contribution and/or a bottle of what you fancy, although there will be sufficient grub for all and plenty of Russian-style toasts! The event will run from 19.00 until approx 22.00, and we’ll be prompting conversations with those around us around food security, grow-your-own, the provenance of our shopping basket, regional produce and a greater understanding of what we eat and where it comes from.

For those who may wish to continue the conversation, the HOME bar is open for a couple more hours thereafter!

Supported by MIT Open Documentary Lab and The Herbarium of Vavilov Institute of Plant Genetic Resources (WIR).

The Association of Manchester Allotment Societies (AMAS) and the Level 2 and 3 Landscaping, Gardening & Aquaponics students at Hopwood Hall College were involved in growing these plants. You can find out more about the college’s courses here.