Hannah Lees, Let Us Go Then, You And I, 2016 ( detail). Image courtesy the artist.

Hannah Lees
The Trees That Yield

Saturday 2 June – Sunday 3 June 2018

Cafe, Horsebridge Arts Centre

With film made in collaboration with Bakudapan

Visit at any point during café opening times.
The Trees that Yield menu is available weekends, 10:00 to 22:00 (last orders 21:30).

Hannah Lees is the artist-in-residence at the Horsebridge café during the Biennale. Though this she is has worked with the staff to produce The Trees that Yield, a café within a café that builds on her interest in cycles of nature, history and culture.

For this immersive artwork¸ Lees has transformed the dining space and created an adventurous plant-based foods and drinks menu – one that is entirely vegan. The wall paintings adorning the café are painted with natural home-made food dyes, and a cooper sign reproduces an inverted version of the hand gesture made by the penitent Mary Magdalene in paintings by Titian and El Greco.

Lees’ broad artistic practice has led her to explore the ways that gathering to eat and drink can connect cultures and rituals from different times and places. She is particularly interested in how civilisations form and end around an ever-changing relationship between what is valued and what is discarded, and has frequently used food by-products to produce sculptures.

For this artist residency at the Horsebridge Café Lees is creating new dishes and drinks for the café menu, including:

Cashew, Buckwheat & Dried Shiitake Tart with Vegetable Pulp & Flax Crust;
Charcoal Spelt Tacos with Hibiscus, Cacao & Red Onion;
Carrot, Ginger & Turmeric Pulp Cake;
Hibiscus, Rose & Beet Pulp Red Velvet Cake.

The menu applies inventive approaches such as fermentation and dehydration, creating vivid and nutritious snacks, sweets, tonic drinks, and light meals. Through these, the menu explores ‘root to fruit’ (waste-free) food preparation, native species and foraging; and authenticity in relation to migration of foods and customs.

As part of Lees’ project The Trees That Yield she travelled to Indonesia to take part in a British Council exchange residency with Bakudapan Food Study Group. Bakudapan is an interdisciplinary study group focusing on food and includes artists, designers and anthropologists. Their projects explore ingredients, cooking and food history, and use food as an instrument for discussing broad issues. Together, Lees and Bakupadan have explored how communities in different regions of the world address the urgent global question of food security. A video they have made in collaboration is on show in the café each day of the festival.

This video documents the first stage of a two-part residency exchange, initiated by Whitstable Biennale and supported by British Council Indonesia, between Kent based artist Hannah Lees and Indonesia based food study group Bakudapan.

The purpose of this exchange is begin a long-term collaboration which explores the artistic, social and political potential of food and food ‘waste’. These themes are already central in both Lees’ and Bakudapan’s work. Lees’ is interested in processes and cycles, and her work often prompts questions about how the importance of objects and acts changes with shifts between times and places. Bakudapan, a group of artists, designers and anthropologists, use food – an accessible and universal subject – as an instrument for discussing challenging questions relating to politics, gender and ethnography.

For the first stage of the residency Lees travelled to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, where Bakudapan are based. During the visit they explored native Indonesian foodstuffs – creating and reviving recipes, meeting with cooks and community organisations, and holding public discussions around the subject of leftovers. During these discussions an ad-hoc mobile phone messaging app was used for live translation between Javanese and English – this has influenced the use of subtitles in the video shown here, which aims to represent the exchange as fully and honestly as possible.

On Sunday 10 June there will be a special dinner and talk by the artist.
Click here to read more.

Thanks to the British Council, Jamie and Kellie at the Horsebridge Cafe, and Curve Coffee Roasters (whose coffee will be at the Horsebridge through WB2018).