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Helen Crevel - Seedling Interview

Seedling returns to Northampton and Corby this Spring with Helen Crevel’s original audio piece now installed alongside a new audio piece for children and young people under 12. The new work, inspired by the important themes of the first piece, has been co-created with Years 3 and 4 at Cottesmore Academy, Rutland, working with the original creatives.

Photo by Christian Sinibaldi

The two audio pieces will be shared in pop-up installations in Northampton and Corby alongside textile creations, made by local people in the weeks leading up to the installations. The sessions will aim to look at how our families shape our identity and our relationship with where we live as well as how we think about the future.

We caught up with Helen Crevel to learn more.

When did you know you wanted a career in the arts?
Some of my first memories are of being able to disappear into my imagination - either dancing on stage or reading stories or drawing. I think after I realised it was possible to do that as a job - maybe around the time of starting secondary school - it became my main focus.
Were there any people or performances that inspired your formal years?
I was quite a shy child so even though I wanted to perform, I’m not really sure I would have done it if I hadn’t had a couple of really incredible, nurturing teachers who gave me the time and encouragement to feel like I was capable of it.
Where did the inspiration for Seedling come from?
The story for Seedling (and its new companion piece Cub) draws heavily on my own life. When we started on the project, I only knew that I wanted to make something that addressed the climate crisis and also climate justice. At the time my feelings about that were all tangled up with my mixed heritage and also thinking about becoming a parent. So looking at it through that lens became an obvious choice.
How did you approach making it come to life?
Some of the production choices for Seedling came out of the time it was being made - 2021. We were still limited by lockdowns and bubbles so we decided straightaway to create an audio piece - without a live performer - that people could experience alone or in their ‘bubbles’.
So knowing those parameters, Anne (Langford, my Creative Collaborator) and I played around with a lot of different audio formats (e.g. a news report, a podcast, a captain’s log!) and also with scenarios that we felt might become part of the world of our story.

Photo by Christian Sinibaldi

Having it first outing in 2021, the installation returns for a new project. How thrilling it is to be returning to it?
It’s the biggest thrill! I think we were so surprised and moved by the depth of people’s response to the project the first time round and I definitely think there is more people it can reach. 
And of course, Seedling now has company - its companion piece Cub! Cub was created together with children from Cottesmore Academy in Rutland and is aimed at ages 7-12+ although both older and younger ones have been enjoying it too.
What can people expect from the experience? 
Both audio stories are quite intimate and personal. Ruth Stringer, our designer has created two different but cosy ‘den’ spaces - so you can get really comfortable to listen. You’re wearing headphones so the first-person narrative comes right into your ear - almost like a secret - which I think feels quite immersive - a feeling that’s enhanced by the music and sound from our sound designer, Alice Boyd.
There are also some fun and thoughtful wraparound activities that you can join in with after the main piece - including making wildflower playdough, weaving on a loom, adding to our project timeline and more!
How important was the engagement with the children at Cottesmore Academy in Rutland?
I strongly believe that communities are the experts in what they want and need from creative work. So who better to help us create a piece for children than the children it is aimed at? 
We tried to go in with as little preconceived ideas as possible, so that what we came up with is truly in response to the kids. Working with them was a real treat - they are so imaginative, funny and irreverent - and they came up with ideas that we definitely wouldn’t have!
One of my favourite moments was going in for our last session with these kids to share the whole story. Whenever they were hushed, or they giggled together - we knew we’d got it right.
The project brings together community with textile creations being made. What made you choose to do this? 
From the first Seedling installation, we knew if we ever brought it back we’d want to create a companion piece for younger audiences but also invite people to crete their own textile squares inspired by their family heritages. In 2021, our designer Ruth created some special squares inspired by the team’s heritage but opening that out to more local people felt really important for this time around! 
If you were a biscuit, what would you be and why? 
A jaffa cake - it’s not even really sure if it’s a biscuit.
What keeps you inspired? 
The people around me. On this project in particular, I have been privileged to work with the most incredible team. There are no egos, but everyone is open, generous and challenging (in a good way) for the good of the project but also in caring for each other. 

Photo by Christian Sinibaldi

What do you think the message is of Seedling?
When we set out to make Seedling, one thing I was adamant about was that I didn’t want it to feel depressing - because it can be easy to fall into those feelings when you start thinking about the climate crisis. So as the project evolved, its key question became ‘How do we live with hope?’ So my hope is that people come away feeling more connected to their families and nature and also motivated to take action - even small ones - for a better, greener world.

Seeding runs at Willow Place, Corby from 24th May until 2nd June 2024. Find out more at

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