Welcome to the first blog in a series relating to our new exhibition – Reflections on the Great British Fish and Chips. In the middle of Refugee Week, on Wednesday 22nd June 2022, we celebrated the launch of our exhibition and the fantastic work of our volunteer Research and Curation Group! Over a some delicious refreshments we were able to give visitors the first taste of the new exhibition in the Templeman Gallery.
The original exhibition – The Great British Fish and Chips – was commissioned by Counterpoint Arts in 2021, in partnership with Canterbury Cathedral and Turner Contemporary, Margate. Reportage artist Olivier Kugler, and writer Andrew Humphreys, interviewed and illustrated the stories and experiences of fish and chips shop owners across Kent. They explored the history of fish and chips, Britain’s national dish, and discovered that it could not exist without global trade and migration.
Our hosting of this travelling exhibition also includes a display of items from the University of Kent Special Collections & Archives. The exhibition and display will be open until the end of September 2022.
Research and Curation Group:
This exhibition and display has been co-curated with group of volunteers who formed a Research and Curation Group. The group spent two sessions exploring the original material in Special Collections & Archives, selecting items that particularly interested them, and writing captions to describe their item and explain their selection for the exhibition.
Themes explored by the Research and Curation Group included attitudes to migrant communities in Britain today and in the past, immigration policy in the UK, the development of the fishing industry, the maritime history of places in Kent, and expressions of British ‘ownership’ of the seas in the past as expressed in our theatre collections.
Photography and hand-stitched dress:
We are also delighted to display photography by Rania Saadalah, introduced to us by Basma El Doukhi, our colleague and one of the project leads for this exhibition. Rania’s photographs use visual storytelling to share the stories of inspiring people living in the Palestinian Camps in Lebanon, and depict the preparation of foods such as falafel, ma’amoul, and traditionally baked breads, as well as fisherman at work. Through these images we explore how people and be brought together by sharing food, stories and cultural traditions.
Look out for future blogs in this series in the coming weeks – with contributions from participants in the Research and Curation Group and from Basma and Rania. The blogs will describe our volunteer’s experiences working on the project, and provide images of the items alongside the captions used in our exhibition.