Artist, Leo Burtin, reflects on The Common Kitchen’s two weeks in Lancaster…

common kitchen

‘During the two weeks of my residency at King Street Studios, I undertook a series of creative and culinary experiments which will go on to inform the making of a book entitled The Common Kitchen. This publication will feature essays on a number of food-related themes as well as a number of recipes’.

‘Some of the featured recipes are ones that I have been developing, but the vast majority will have been handed-down, scribbled in margins, bullet-pointed in haste on the back of paper napkins. Much ofThe Common Kitchen began with a desire to showcase the hundreds of recipes that have been donated to me as I travel the country with my “dinner and show” performances’.

‘My collection of crowdsourced recipes grew even more over the course of my time at the Lancaster gallery, and behind each and every one of these recipes is at least one story. There are stories of local produce; many memories of families; travel logs from every corner of the world; complex family trees and personal identities gently simmered into a single dish…’

‘This might be one of my favourite things about this collection. They are a mirror of each of my encounters with the people who donated them. Many are seemingly very simple, but they hold many distinct and rich layers of history; they are vessels of care and attention’.

‘I have a keen interest in food, of course. I love the slow developing craft of making it, I love the magic of sharing it, and of telling its stories. The Common Kitchen, however, when you boil it down to its essence has very little to do with food: it is about people, and it is about looking for community. After spending two weeks inviting people to sit at a table and share lunch with (mostly) strangers, I feel grounded. Thanks to The Common Kitchen, I feel more at home in Lancaster than I ever have in the nearly ten years since I first moved here’.

‘As a migrant, recent political events have made me wonder whether I should still be calling Lancaster my home. The Common Kitchen has offered me a kind of hope and the words from Jo Cox’s maiden speech (MP assassinated in her West Yorkshire constituency) keep ringing in my ears: “We have far more in common than that which divides us.”

‘I am now sure that this will ring true to anyone who has ever invited a complete stranger to take a seat at their table… In fact, this could well make for the start of my next project’.

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