Bread Making as Participatory Art
Hull Rises was a bread baking and creative writing workshop at Western Library, Hull on Saturday 29th July, 11am-3pm.
I initially found the event through social media, as so much of my life is connected and communicated these days, and I readily booked tickets weeks in advance, to see how poetry, bread-making, visual arts, and creative writing could be woven together.
Some weeks later my supervisor offered me a leaflet of the same event, which I had forgotten to put in my diary, luckily there was still time to organise family plans so we could take part.
That Saturday I took my youngest boy to the beautiful garden and courtyard of Western Library on the Boulevard, just off Hessle Road, Hull. We were welcomed by smiling faces, lots of people stood around wobbly tables with bowls of prepared salt and flour, dough scrapers and sheets of paper with pens for each participant.
There were plenty of people on hand to help each participant fully engage with the creative experience we had embarked upon. The sun shone whilst moved between dough making activities, listening to poetry readings, writing our own personal response, and watching a short film which compared brick making and bread making factory processes. The day was relaxed and informal, and it had a positive feel throughout.
I was intrigued by the potential of bringing together visual arts, performance, literature and baking into one experience for a group of unacquainted, but willing participants. All the artist’s had a genuine passion and skill in their artform, but there was a lack of cohesion and flow which possibly stemmed from the fact that this was the first time this grouping of artists had delivered this event.
The real star of the show was the Baker who took the participants through the process of making their own Boulevard Hot Cakes. I believe that the process of making with your own hands and mind, rather than witnessing, is the key to genuine engagement and in this case participation was elisted from all attendees, this part of the workshop was the most engaging and rewarding. Not only did my 4-year-old and I produce 12 beautifully crusty and piping hot buns which we enjoyed on the way home, but we worked together as a team and had fun together.
This was Participatory Arts in all its forms, some parts worked and some didn’t work so well, some people fully engaged and others chose not to at times, and that was fine. Nobody was pushed, or cajoled into taking part and the atmosphere and environment was pitched really well.
Participatory Arts is alive and kicking in Hull and it has an important role to play in bringing together diverse and commonly interested audiences in creative and social events.