It's all kicking off in Margate at the moment with the opening of the Turner Contemporary. One of the (quite simply) fantastic projects that has been happening in the buzzy run up to the event is the 'Pie Days and Holidays' - Margate food stories collection. This inventive Taxonomy, the brainchild of artist Sophie Herxheimer and Kate Kneale of Marine Studios, has seen illustrated stories collected around the town from it's residents - all about food. This is a project that Sophie has used before as a means of showcasing the colourful social histories of everyday people in a regular town. In 'Thames Festival Feast on the Bridge' Sophie collected stories about food (good/bad/funny/sad/secret/home/abroad/snacks/meals) and screen printed them, in her own illustrative style, onto tablecloths for a huge community feast. She has this year succeeded in collecting a further 175 food stories from Margate, and created a wonderful exhibition of them, illustrating just how diverse and interesting the funny folk of this town are.
Starting out as a simple attempt to get to know the residents better, the project has grown into an exhibition, a feast (of all of the described foods), a limited edition book, and decoration for the boarded up shopfronts of Margate!
My brother and I were lucky enough to have the opportunity to tell Sophie our food stories - mine being about sausages - and I was completely enchanted by the idea. I even won a 'gingerbread Mermaid' for my enthusiasm about the whole thing, which is a whole new food anecdote in itself! In my opinion, food is everything as it is in the family, the everyday, it is reward & punishment, occasion & solitude, and for that reason everyone has a food story. A lot of an individuals personality is given away by the stories they tell about the things they eat.
If you want to hear some audio on the project, the BBC featured it in their Food Programme, and you can STILL get down to the exhibition as it has been extended until the 28th April, see the website for details. The idea is brilliant, the stories are wonderful, the boards look so colourful, and I am going to buy the book.