In 2014, Antonia and Anna worked together with three other British artists, Rose Arbuthnott, Stephen Moynihan, and Jessie Buchanan to produce the first stage of the residency in Oaxaca, Mexico. The artists were actively engaged with the local community, meeting with famers and scientists as well as artists and craftsmen to develop an understanding of the foods in Oaxaca. This culminated in two pop-up shows (FIELD), the second of which was a collaboration with local artists responding to the themes put forward by the First Food project.
Following the success of the first stage of the residency, the project has received arts council funding and is an official part of the Mexico/ UK dual year (2015). The dual year is a cultural celebration in both countries to ”promote better understanding between our societies.” With this support it has been possible to invite more artists to take part as well as developing relationships with creative partners including; The Tallet, the Museum of Rural Life in Reading, the Royal Drawing School and a continued collaboration with Centro de las Artes in San Agustin, Mexico (CaSa) for further stages of the project.
Summer 2015 the First Food Residency hosted 7 Mexican artists: Israel de la Paz, Marcos Hiram Rojas Sosa, Polina Porras, Roque Reyes Mendoza, Jesus Gonzalez, Sofia Galindo and Mario Castellanos. Nicholas and Vanessa Arbuthnott generously awarded them accommodation and studio space at The Tallet in Cirencester and after an intense six weeks of work, the artists produced an exhibition: FIELDS AND TABLES.
While in the UK, the Mexican artists had the opportunity to visit farms where they have learnt about different types of food production local to Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. They have also made creative ties with artists at Reading University and the Royal Drawing School in London, working alongside their students for study days and sharing some facilities.
Concluding the dual year the a further 4 artists travelled to Oaxaca, Mexico to take part in the third First Food Residency. Again the group was based at CaSa receiving accomodation and studio space. This year the exhibition took place in the gallery at the University of Oaxaca (UABJO).
2016 included Mexican residents with First Food based at Reading and Chelsea in the UK
and Stephen Chambers was based at Jardin Cebu in Oaxaca.
2017 sees five British artists, selected by FFR with MERL and Chelsea, completing work in Oaxaca, as well as bespoke opportunities organised for Mex artist Guillermo Olguien and botanical illustrator Rosemary Wise.
• Artist residencies are planned for this year and onwards, bringing in new partners.
• Future shows curated from FFR artwork are also scheduled for Mexico and the UK
• A major exhibition of the outcomes of the First Food Residency project will happen in 2022. This will be curated from work produced by First Food artists. It will also include the work of invited artists working with themes relating to First Food concepts. A public programme of lectures, seminars, symposia, and events will be mounted to accompany the exhibition, opening debates around our food culture to experts and the general public (also using social media)
• Outreach and Community projects emerging from the exhibition will continue to take place across the UK embedding learning and research.
Sofia Galindo photographed by Anna Bruce
Sculpture by Fernando Laposse
Photographed by Fernando Laposse