Spiritual Flavours: using visual arts practice to explore food and faith in West London

Authors: Laura Cuch*, University College London
Topics: Cultural Geography, Religion, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: Food, Religion, Photography, Film, Art, Visual Methods, Public Engagement
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Studio 3, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this paper, I present the project Spiritual Flavours (the practice element of my PhD) to reflect on my experience of using visual arts that draw on food media genres, such as cooking programs and cookbooks, to investigate the relationship between food and faith. This is a collaborative arts project with members of different faith communities in the suburbs of West London, who contribute recipes that they relate to their spirituality and religious practices. These communities include a Synagogue, a Sri Lankan Hindu Temple, a mosque, a Sikh Gurdwara, an Anglican church, a multicultural Roman Catholic church and an ethnically diverse Pentecostal church. Through interviews and cooking sessions, the project pays attention to affective relationships with food, as a vehicle to explore ideas about home, gender, inheritance, tradition, difference and belief. These sessions are the basis of a 'multi-faith' short film and a cookbook. On the one hand, the book visually explores a wide range of relationships between food and spirituality across home and the worship spaces. On the other hand, through the use of a three-split screen, the film focuses on three people from three of the faith communities to create visual and sonic synchronies and asynchronies between home cooking, religious practices and biographical narratives. Finally, I argue that visual arts practice (distinct from visual methods) contributes a performative understanding of religious culinary traditions in ways that are inseparable from the practices involved in the creative process itself. A five-minute preview of the film is available at www.spiritualflavours.com.

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