Food and the way we eat have always been closely related to our cultural identity. Our roots and families define how we cook, shop and eat. In this day and age when migration is a common phenomenon, more and more people make their homes in new countries. For some, it is an escape from economic hardship, for others – from uninspiring surroundings, and some come to taste a new culture for a few years. Newcomers might learn the language, adapt to a new culture, but certain aspects of identity remain the same. One of them is our relationship with food.
Living in multicultural Scotland I have been a frequent visitor in various local food shops catering specifically to immigrants from Poland, Middle East, China, Russia etc. I am interested in the relationships in between food and homesickness, particular dishes and nostalgia, taste and memories. Cooking is a particular ritual performed not only to produce dinner or supper but also to feed the emotional hunger, that could be created by being far from one’s own culture.
The specialized grocery shops, parcels being sent from home with traditional sweets or biscuits, semi- legal vans crossing Europe selling foodstuffs from the boot, my suitcase exceeding the weight limit at the airport because of Lithuanian sausage and buckwheat- these are beautiful and sad glimpses into the world of nostalgic eating. The people I have interviewed for my project have all shared more than just lists of dishes, they all seemed to be transported to their childhood, sharing their most personal memories. The visual story I am telling is a story of escaping from one’s usual and comfortable surroundings, making new home and life, and then escaping back through a plateful of nostalgia.
Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte is a Lithuanian artist and photographer currently based in Glasgow, Scotland. Currently studying MLitt Fine Art Practice in Photography and Moving Image at the Glasgow School of Art and working as a D.O.P. on the documentary about the joint art project of Glasgow Women’s Library and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Kotryna graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with first class honours and now continues to work on personal projects and commissions. Her work ranges widely from social documentary to staged photography projects with a focus on themes of cultural identity, belonging and perception of time.