CLAY POT contributor Tanya Houghton, whose photo-series, A Migrant’s Tale, was featured in our Memory Issue, speaks to the team about using food as a tool to dig deeper into the current global migration crisis
How did you become interested in this project?
I became interested in this project for two reasons: through a love of food and a passion to challenge the contemporary media representation of migration circulating in the current global press.
What was your biggest learning while doing this?
The biggest thing that I learnt through this project was that despite our differences in cultures and conflicting global positioning, food is so integral in shaping the rituals in our daily routines and essential in creating vivid memories associated with our homelands.
How important is food to you and what are your earliest memories associated with food?
Food plays a very important part in my photographic practice and in my daily routines. Food is the easiest way to bring people together, to sit, break bread and discuss ideas. My earliest memory connects food and the arrival of my younger brother, Justin. I remember going to the hospital to visit him with my father just after he was born. I had just turned two, I remember glancing down at him briefly and then finding a comfortable corner to sit on my mother’s bed. I began working my way through all the fresh fruit we had brought her with no interest for anything else going on around me. I guess I started prioritising food in my life from an early age.
Do you have a favourite food/cuisine?
I have many and move through phases. I’m fortunate that I’ve gotten to try a lot of different food through my travels. At the moment I’m obsessed with Mexican food. The combination and complex layering of flavours, mixing citrus fruits, salt, chili and spices; you get these fresh overwhelming flavours that still manage to retain integrity throughout.
Why do you think we need to discuss about food and its culture?
Food is everything, without it we cease to exist. It is the one of the only things that ties us all together, yet at the same time celebrates our diversity.
Why do you think this photo-series fits well in Clay Pot?
This body of work, A Migrant’s Tale, sits so well with what Clay Pot strives to achieve. Not just representing food, but representing the stories and memories behind it; exploring and celebrating different cultures from all over the world.
Where else was this work exhibited?
A Migrant’s Tale was exhibited in November at the MMX gallery in London. I exhibited the work as a festival artist during the Urban Photo Fest, run in conjunction with Goldsmiths and the Tate. I also hosted a curated lunch in the gallery space to coincide with the exhibition; food was prepared by Veronica Dick, who was one of the participants in the project. During the three-course meal, we discussed themes and ideas around the contemporary representations of home.