The Faces Behind Our Food (FBOF) exhibition has now stopped touring and we are taking a few months to reflect on the project and explore how we might develop the work further. In this week’s column we share some of the highlights from the project and what worked well…
FBOF achieved its ultimate aim of creating an accessible exhibition that uses art to connect people with the provenance of their food.
As I am sure you are aware, the exhibition featured 12 local food producers from Lancashire, with each having two photographs and an A4 ‘story panel’. Each story focused on a couple of topics raised by producers during interviews, resulting in the exhibition as a whole exploring a range of issues linked with Lancaster’s local food system. Interviews are available to listen to online at soundcloud.com
To make the exhibition and its activities accessible, all FBOF activities were free and the exhibition toured ten venues around Lancaster which included non- tradition arts venues such as cafés and Lancaster’s market square. The exhibition toured Lancaster District for 210 days and all of the artwork has been made available online at www.foodfutures.org.uk/the-faces-behind-our-food.
1198 people viewed the exhibition online and 11962+ people attended the live exhibition. Of those that completed an evaluation form, 23% claimed to never/ to rarely have attended art exhibitions and 42% learnt something new about local and sustainable food.
11 animation workshops were also run alongside the exhibition with 95 people attending these workshops in total. Each session focussed on two producers’ stories to encourage discussion, which fed into the creation of stop motion animations. All participants successfully created animations that were shared online on the LESS blog and at a final event.
We also ran a number of other events alongside the exhibition which included a local food festival and a local food taster day at Lancaster University. 1095 attended these events in total. Event attendees were found to have a greater awareness of local food issues compared to workshop attendees.
Everyone that was involved in creating the FBOF exhibition developed in numerous ways- from learning new creative skills and animation techniques, to gaining a deeper understanding of the sustainability issues that underlie our local food system. Some have also changed their shopping habits and have started looking out for locally produced food that can be bought direct from the grower.
LESS now understands and appreciates how art and creative activities can be used to encourage discussion and learning about sustainability issues with more diverse audiences – other than those with an interest already!