Attendees in front of the woman wall

BOV Projects 2023: Preserving Cultural Memories through Pickling

ACH and Bristol Old Vic have been collaboratively working on an exciting project aimed at supporting women from refugee or migrant background over the last two years. In 2022, a group of women came together to develop the HOMEMADE drink. 

Keep reading to find out more...

After one finishes this project, you come out with new connections, information and friends. The participants were all incredibly happy to come and share their stories.

For this year’s project, ACH service users from 10 different nationalities participated in sessions that were delivered by Bristol Old Vic over 12 weeks. The project centred on the creation of a pickle product, incorporating recipes from the different cultural backgrounds of the participants. As pickling is a preservation technique, exploring pickling recipes and techniques gave the project participants an opportunity to share their food culture and symbolically preserve their cultural memories in Bristol City.

The HOMEMADE project included:

  • Introductory Coffee Morning to enable network building.
  • Planning Session with participants, enabling them to shape and codevelop the project with their facilitators.
  • Food Hygiene Session which allowed participants to leave the project with a Level 2 Food and Hygiene Certificate that opened opportunities to be employed in the food industry;
  • Planting Session where participants planted herbs in the greenhouse outside Bristol Old Vic which were later used to produce pickles;
  • Foraging Session which introduced and familiarised Bristol and its flora to the participants.
  • Recipe Design, Branding and Bottling Sessions where participants shared and experimented with different pickling recipes and techniques.

As most of the participants are mothers, Bristol Old Vic ensured that there were additional facilitators during the project to run children’s activities, ensuring that lack of access to childcare was not a barrier for participants to engage in the project.

At the end of the project, the participants shared that they had developed a strong group bond with each other and are now familiar and comfortable dropping into Bristol Old Vic for a coffee. This is remarkable as the theatre is located on King Street, a venue that our service users have previously expressed was not accessible to them but now feel more at home thanks to the project.

Maria Mohammad, who previously was a participant in the HOMEMADE project in 2022, took on the role of Community Engagement Officer with ACH this year and supported the delivery of the project. Her journey exemplifies the fact that both Bristol Old Vic and ACH prioritise empowering participants and focus on their development throughout their projects.

“After one finishes this project, you come out with new connections, information and friends. We cannot forget that Bristol Old Vic offers free theatre tickets and a safe space for children. And the transport support they provided has made this an inclusive and worthwhile project. The participants were all incredibly happy to come and share their stories.”
- Maria Mohammad

Over the course of the projects, their interactions, recipes and items of cultural memories that the participants brought were recorded and are now in an exhibition open to the public at Bristol Old Vic. The exhibition has been curated by Hatty Welsh with graphics and design by Ellie Cassidy and sound design by Sophia Oriogun-Williams.

ACH would like to express its gratitude to Holly Wallis and Hester Welch who led the project and brought together women from different backgrounds, adapting to challenges with great flexibility and creating a space for cultural exchange and preservation.

"This Exhibition offers visitors the chance to reflect on how, why and where we eat the food we love – and who connects us to.” 
– Holly Wallis, Heritage Manager

“It’s been fantastic getting to know an inspiring group of women from all across the world through food, stories, humour and our shared connection to Bristol. I urge anyone to come and experience it for themselves at the exhibition!”
– Hester Welch, Project Facilitator

The exhibition is open and welcoming to all visitors and audience members, with free admission available throughout the day. It will remain open until March 3rd.

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