<GIPT> The root of the word gift is the Old Norse ‘gipt’ , which means both ‘gift’ and ‘good luck’. A gift is an item that’s given without any expectation of payment.

June 1st – August 31st 2019, Tønsberg, Norway

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A collaboration between Robbie Coleman & Jo Hodges and Norwegian artist Linn Horntvedt that explored ideas around information, ownership of knowledge and gifting. The artists created a series of public interventions which culminated in a temporary garden at the Rundkirkeruinen (ruin of St Olav’s church dating from 1180). The garden was built from an open source design and cultivated culinary plants that were grown at medieval St Olav’s Monastery. The plants were for the use of the local community.

The project acted as a connector between past and future. In an age defined by issues of ownership of land, information, ideas, even seeds, <Gipt> investigated alternative models of distribution and provoked conversations about what social values and actions may be needed in times of change. As long held notions of society are challenged by climate change, consumerism and the onward rush of technology, will ‘sharing’ become one of the most politically charged words in our vocabulary?

The  <Gipt> garden aimed to provide a space for contemplation as well as for open conversations about future uses of the site.

Project development:
1. Planting seeds for the <GIPT> Garden

In collaboration with Per Arvid Åsen (Agder Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden, Kristiansand, Norway) the artists identified and planted seeds of plants that would have been grown at St Olav’s Monastery. Per Arvid kindly donated plants for the garden and led a walk and talk on medieval plants during July 2019.

2. Seeds of Social Change. Workshops and public intervention

The <GIPT> artists designed seed packets that contained seeds from the type of plants that were grown in the St Olav’s Monastery garden in the 11th century. The packets also contained information on how to save the seeds from the plants and instructions for social actions that explored notions of sharing and generosity.

Facebook Seed Packet workshop

The seed packets were given away free and were left around Tønsberg at places of rest or exchange such as shopping centres, libraries, park benches, bus stops and railway stations. The seed packets were made in public workshops at the Tønsberg and Færder Library on 1st and 7th June

Images: Workshop Tønsberg Library 7th June

The artists also made a small exhibition in the library connecting knowledge with seeds and growth.

3. The <GIPT> Garden

The garden was built at the centre of the ruin of St Olavs Curch church (built 1191) which is directly opposite the Tønsberg and Færder Library (which contains the monastery ruins) More on St Olav’s Monastery and Church The <GIPT> open source garden was located on this site of learning and contemplation which in medieval times was a place of privilege. The current library is an open access public building and the garden was open source and open access which allowed consideration of differences between past and present and also exploration of ideas around ownership of knowledge.

The garden was situated at the centre of the ruins of the round church. It was planted with plants grown by the artists and donated by the local community. There was a seated area inside which acted as a place of rest and contemplation.

The garden was designed by Project 10 and is open source https:// Linn milled the parts at a workshop in Oslo and it was constructed at a Dugnad (community activity) before the opening on 15th June.

4. The Garden Opening

The garden opened on 15th June by the Mayor of Tonsberg and included a talk by local historian Eivind Luthenand a ceremony led by the Norwegian Sauna Ritual champion, Jérôme Richter

5. The Flowering

‘The Flowering’ is a choral work that was created from scores generated by the <GIPT> artists. The scores were the result of a digital interpretation of a number of medicinal and culinary herbs that were grown at St Olav’s Monastery using illustrations from an 11th century medieval manuscript. The illustrations were digitized and the data transposed into musical notations using specialised software.

The performance was developed at a day long workshop led by composer Kate Howard ( and took place in Moniaive, Scotland. The workshop culminated in a performance that was relayed into the Rundkirkeruinen at 3pm on the 15th of June to coincide with the opening of the <GIPT> Garden.

The choir performing the score generated from Orache
The choir performing the score generated from Mugwort

Part of the score was made into a piece for the town bells by Jo Hodges. The bells sounded the score at 3pm every day while the garden was in situ from 15th June to 31st August.

6. The <GIPT> Garden in situ

15th June: The Garden opened for people to visit and was in situ until 31 August 2019. There was a seated space inside for rest and contemplation. As the plants grew, they were able to be picked and used for cooking by the local community.

7. Associated Activities

3rd August. A city Walk/talk was held in Tønsberg with Per Arvid Åsen (Agder Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden, Kristiansand, Norway) Per Arvid identified and discussed medieval monastery plants and herbs.

Lots more info on the <GIPT> blog:
If you’re interested in more background information in the thinking behind <GIPT>, here’s the ‘long read’ PDF:
GIPT Background Information

Thanks to the <GIPT> Collaborators:

Tønsberg Library
Per Arvid Åsen Agder Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden, Kristiansand
Kate Howard ( Scotland) Composer
Espen Melbo. Domakantor
Council Archeologist
Eivind Luthen from Rundkirkens Venner
Members of Public in Norway, Choir in Scotland
Jérôme Richter, Norwegian Sauna Ritual Champion

Categories: 2019, Collaboration, Community Engagement, Food, Installation, Interactive, Participatory, Process, Research, Site Specific, Sound, Strategy

Jo Hodges

Jo Hodges is a multidisciplinary public artist based in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.
Jo [] has a background in Human Ecology, community development and social justice.

Her work investigates ecological and socio-cultural systems, processes and relationships, and explores new strategies for working in public. Her practice takes many forms; temporary and permanent works, site specific installations and socially engaged projects and processes. She is often led by context, where the outcome is determined as a result of process.

She is interested in research, experimentation and collaboration at the intersection of environment, culture and technology and exploring the role of art in social change. She is joint Director-Curator of Sanctuary Lab, a public art laboratory in the Galloway Forest Dark Skies Park.