This is my Love Letter to Sydney:
It was part of my 2004 exhibition at wren.
In 2002 myself, my friend Tony and my son Indy made thousands of
the little bags pictured below.
I did this project over about three 14 week terms in 2002. At the time I had maybe 120 students. I asked them if they'd like to get involved. Most were happy to volunteer. (This was not a homework
So, maybe 100 decided to help, planting one bag each over maybe 36 weeks, that's 3,600 little love letters planted around
Sydney. A lot of my students wrote down exactly where they planted their seeds, I've got a bag with maybe 1000 scraps of paper, each detailing a location.
One friend, Dr Anthony Sams, planted them in front of the Tate Modern in London.
One student, planted some in Beijing, another did Siphol airport in Amsterdam.
They ended up across the city and around the world. Not only was it a wonderful art project, it got a lot of my students looking at their city in a different way. For the first time they were looking at the neglected, unobserved spaces around them. The places our brains usually filter out of awareness and
Nobody outside my students and friends knew this was happening. We kept the whole project secret. It was an anonymous love letter. A love letter that took maybe 6 months to deliver. (The delay between planting a first
flowering.) I think this could have been the most beautiful thing I've ever done.
here to view an image of the love letter...
My friend, the writer David
Rosenzweig, wrote a Gallery Note for the exhibition, this is what it
MY LOVE LETTER TO SYDNEY™
Instructions: These Sunflower seeds can be scattered
on the ground but grow best when planted just below the surface. Plant seeds in
neglected or overlooked urban areas such as median strips, along train lines,
vacant blocks, car parks, footpaths or nature strips. Then e-mail the location
of your planted seeds to email@example.com For more seeds, information, or
to participate in the Love Letter to Sydney Art Project© 2002, contact
Thousands of little zip-lock bags were filled with sunflower seeds by
, his son Indy, and their close friends. Over three fourteen-week semesters,
enlisted the help of his students and friends to distribute the sunflower seeds
wherever they felt it was necessary. In whichever parts of the city – or the
world – they passed through and noticed a lack of colour, participants were
encouraged to sprinkle seeds and email the location to
’s Schiphol airport, outside the Tate Modern in
- wherever the bleakness of an urban landscape caught someone’s attention,
the seeds were spread.
“Not only was it a wonderful art project, it got a lot of my students looking
at their city in a different way. For the first time they were looking at the
neglected, unobserved spaces around them. The places our brains usually filter
out of awareness and memory.”
The ability to delay gratification, arguably the strength of the greatest love
affairs was the foundation of this project. The flowers took around six months
to grow and blossom, during which time only the participants knew the exact
locations they had chosen. After flowering, the grey-brown urban voids that had
been selected were transformed into random patches of colour the way an
unexpected romance changes our lives from the blandness of routine to bursts of
emotional colour and renewed vibrance.
Whether or not these random gifts were noticed by passersby is irrelevant. As
with love, the gift is the giving, even if it’s unrequited. Having dispersed
the thousands of seeds, the gift was presented to the cities and the lives of
the givers were brightened by their knowing that they had performed something
random and beautiful that would be seen by more people than they would ever
David Rosenzweig 2004