CACTUS AND CREATURES at The Koppel Project

Over 100 works from British and Mexican artists over two central London spaces run by The Koppel Project:

Koppel Project, 93 Baker Street and The Hive, 26 Holborn Viaduct 

Open days from the 6 October until the 4 of November

Specific event dates during the exhibition:


6pm - 9pm @ The Koppel Project Hive, 26 Holborn Viaduct.

Sponsored by Mezcal Derrumbes

Saturday 7 October: RED EVENT

4 - 8pm @ The Koppel Project Hub, 93 Baker Street


4pm Artist talk: Sam Beautysta Lazer, owner of Cochineal dyeing farm Teotitlan near Oaxaca.

4.30pm Cochineal and cactus workshop with FFR community manager Greer Pester 

6pm Artist Talk: Anne Laure Carruth (First Food resident 2017) about her woodcuts for Cactus and Creatures and her engagement with Agave farmers 

Followed by mezcal tasting with Jon Darby from Sin Gusano 

*Pop-up shops with beautiful products from Oaxaca!

A percentage of donations and sales for drinks, products, and catalogues will go towards the earthquake support effort in Mexico.


Saturday 14 October: RESILIENCE SHAKE!  

12:30 - 4 pm @ The Koppel Project Hub, 93 Baker Street 

Join us for an afternoon of workshops from the First Food Residency educational outreach program in conjunction with the UK/Mex exhibition: “Cactus and Creatures”. This series of workshops will be delivered by First Food Residency’s community outreach manager Greer Pester.

‘The resilience series’ will look at special native Mexican foods, tying into the themes of the exhibition on show at The Koppel Project during the month of October. We will be focusing on the Nopal Cactus — a national symbol, a hardy plant and a nutritious vegetable staple. We will also be experimenting with the natural red food and product dye ‘Cochineal’ made from a very special bug that feeds off the Nopal cactus. Plus there will be the opportunity to try the Mexican salted snack and potential future food: edible crickets!


Greer will be running 2 workshops over the course of the day from 12:30 - 4pm @ The Koppel Project, 93 Baker Street. 

You can sign up for these sessions at both Koppel Spaces. Please contact to reserve a spot and indicate which workshop you would like to participate in (places limited). 


Workshop 1: (12:30-2pm) NOPAL PLAY 'the sacred tree of hearts' 

The Cactus has exploded as a visual fad around the world; its distinctive forms are printed on clothing and products, their emblematic greenery decorating the trendiest of locations. However, there is more to this unique plant, and by investigating a little further it becomes clear why we should encourage its use in modern society. 


At a time when the world is full of fierce and frightening contrasts, heating up and drying out, we look to an iconic plant like the Nopal cactus for inspiration for our own human resilience and survival. Both a powerful symbol of resilience and a nutritious staple vegetable, honoured across Mexico, it’s Nahuatl name translates to ‘the tree of hearts’. It even features proudly on the national Mexican flag and is being developed as a form of fuel. 


Learn more about the history, folklore, nutritional properties and health benefits of this magical plant whilst constructing your own playful sculpture inspired by its shapes and forms printed and painted with your own honest commentary on social resilience.


Workshop 2: (2:30- 4pm) RESILIENT RED Cochineal 'the colour of cactus blood'

‘Cochineal’ is the enchanting insect that feeds on the Nopal cactus transforming its juice into a vivid red tint which can be found in many of our day to day products from food to clothing. We will play and experiment with this tint and the natural elements that affect its colourful hues, making edible artworks with tortillas and cochineal pigments.


Watch the magical colour change with the mixing of other edible and natural elements. Participants can then fill their wrap and eat their artworks if they should desire!


This workshop aims to raise awareness of Cochineal as a natural colouring which is very much present in the food, clothing and products we unknowingly consume. It also looks to highlight the ancient mythical Mexican origins and rich folklore culture that moves round the history of this vibrant red colouring. Through painting we will learn more about some other mythical creatures associated with the theme of ‘resilience’ such as fierce Aztec gods and the fascinating ever-young, self healing ‘Axolotl’ salamander unique to the fresh water canals of Mexico City.


There will also be the opportunity to make donations and buy some special First Food Residency products; a percentage of sales will go towards supporting charities and organisations aiding the aftermath of the series of earthquakes that dramatically affected Mexico during the month of September.



7pm @ The Koppel Project, 93 Baker Street

Maguey - follows the history and meaning of the Maguey plant for Mexico’s Indigenous communities, the Otomis and Nahuas, as they fight to keep their beliefs and traditions alive.

Dir. Francesco Taboada Tabone (59min. Otomi, Nahua & Spanish. English subtitles)

click through for tickets

Saturday 21 October: PHAIDON special, Can I eat that?

10 am — 12pm @ The Koppel Project, 93 Baker Street


Mini exotic eaters workshop with FFR community manager Greer Pester

Salted crickets, Nopal cactus and cochineal bug-painted tortillas might not sound like a list of tasty treats, but it’s time come and try something new. 


Watch the red hues of the Nopal cactus change as you add other natural elements such as lemon juice, bicarbonate of soda or vinegar, magically transforming from orange to purple.

This workshop is an opportunity to play creatively with the foods of the past and protein sources of the future!


Phaidon will also be providing a variety of lovely books tied into this theme for the children to read and explore. Join us for a morning of storytelling and edible curiosity.


Ages 0-8 (accompanied by an adult)


Please contact to reserve a spot


Thursday 2 November: DAY OF THE DEAD EVENT

5-8pm @ The Koppel Project Hive, 26 Holborn Viaduct.

In celebration of the Mexican Dias De Los Muertos (Day of the dead) festival Greer Pester will be facilitating an Ofrenda making workshop as part of The Resilience Series Cactus and Creatures workshop program.


As an amalgamation of Catholicism and ancient Mexican indigenous spiritual practices, Dias De Los Muertos is a great platform appealing across religious, cultural and generational divides to share in a celebration and contemplation of one of the most commonly binding human processes - the experience of life and death.


In Mexico, during Dias De los Muertos (Day of The Dead), you will find ‘Ofrendas’ (offerings) in every nook from homes, to street corners, by headstones or even at your local fruit and veg stall. In the UK, cemeteries are often grey and cold spaces which are less inviting to a community.


These traditional ‘Ofrendas- ‘offerings’ also (known as ‘altars’ or ‘shrines’) honour loved ones who have passed and are laced with ornate and carefully considered decorative elements: favourite foods and drinks, objects of nostalgia, candles, flowers and burning copal incense. They are sensory masterpieces that draw a centre point for families and communities to take time to reflect, mourn and celebrate the lives of their loved ones. 


Greer is offering the opportunity for participants to build their very own Ofrendas. She will provide the tools and materials for constructing your own altar box — all you need to bring are personal elements and precious nostalgia. She will talk you through the various symbolic elements that complete an Ofrenda and her own personal experiences of the Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ culture in contrast to the British cultural approach to death. 


Please contact to reserve a spot


We will also be constructing our very own Ofrenda @ The Koppel Hive space in Holborn throughout the day, come down and get involved. 


Over the course of the month First Food Residency and The Koppel Project will also be working with local school groups and The Art Room @ Stockwell Primary. We have a some funded workshop packages available for working with groups who would greatly benefit from the program and can offer space for facilitation, please do not hesitate to get in touch at if you think this program is something that could work well with your community group.