The Rituals of Nourishment

Published in The Photographer's Gallery's journal Loose Associations to coincide with Feast for the Eyes exhibition. Eating is perhaps the most primal way that we physically consume culture and emotion—it is our earliest means of accessing the stories of our ancestors. Recipes hold within them deep undercurrents of who we are and who we hope to be. Feeding others can be seen as a way to render accessible the many threads of meaning held within a mother’s humble bowl of congee, or encased beneath the cellophane of a ceremonial gift basket. Cooking with bones is one of our most ancient practices, a prehistoric recipe. When we create ritual and tradition around food, we unfold deep lineages and connections spanning time and space. Many of the dishes that we hold dear are not meant to be beautiful nor conspicuous, and meals which truly feed and sustain us will not necessarily pander to the glamorous aesthetics proliferated in visual culture. To value food only for its ability to win our eyes does not truly respect the act of consumption as a fundamentally ancient, sensory and ritualised act.

Ceremonial Gift Basket⁠
"Gifts that we ingest impart both the sentiment from the giver, as well as nourishment to our bodies. In lieu of prioritizing only the most aesthetically appealing fruits in a ceremonial gift basket, we look to celebrate foods that might otherwise go to waste, embedding an environmental awareness into this act of love.”⁠
Bones
“Humans have been eating bone marrow since prehistoric times, and using bones to make stock or broth dates to at least the second century BC in China, making it one of our most ancient foods.”
Congee
“Recipes hold within them deep undercurrents of who we are and who we hope to be. To nourish others is to assume this responsibility—to build access to the histories, ecologies, and futures embedded within food. Nourishment can be seen as a way to render accessible the many threads of meaning held within a mother’s humble bowl of congee, or encased beneath the cellophane of a ceremonial gift basket. Cooking with bones is one of our most ancient practices, a prehistoric recipe. When we create ritual and tradition around food, we unfold deep lineages and connections spanning time and space.”
Food Alter⁠
“Food has a rich history as a part of both religious and secular altars, ranging from Buddhist shrines to Dutch still life paintings to ancestral worship, where it often plays a powerful symbolic role. By recreating food altars in our own lives, we render tangible our beliefs and values, and reconcile both geographic and temporal distances.”⁠
Food Alter II⁠
“This series of photographs offers a riposte to the hyper-consumption of visual ‘food’ which has come to dominate our cultural appetite. A collection of foods which are comforting, nostalgic, and intimately tied to Earth—foods that nourish us and support the future of our planet, foods which lie beyond their value as images. They are imperfect, unglamorous, deeply meaningful objects, which bridge the gap between our bodies and our values. The images recreate food altars and food traditions we learned from our families; we foment new ones to reflect values of environmental responsibility, waste reduction, and sustainability.”⁠

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Freelance Food, Drink & Still Life Photographer