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I am a Dish, Keswick, Cumbria

9 May - June 28 2006

Keswick Museum and Art Gallery is open Tues– Sat 10am-4pm.

Curator's Choice: A display of the results from 'I am a Dish'; a public art work devised by Nicola Atkinson Davidson as the starting point for creating a Public Art Strategy for Keswick.

Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, Fitz Park Station Road Keswick, Cumbria CA12 4NF Tel: (017687) 73263

I am currently working with WILLIE MILLER URBAN DESIGN + YELLOW BOOK MARTIN STOCKLEY ASSOCIATES + RYDEN on Keswick Town Centre Master Plan. My role is to assist them to set out the basis for integrating public art within the public realm and to provide engagement with an intelligent public art strategy.


In assisting, as an artist, in the formulation of a Public Art Strategy for Keswick I wished to create a vehicle through which the community had a way to express their opinions of their town and feed those views back to the process of Keswick Town Centre Master Plan. My aim in starting the dialogue in this gentle way to discard the usual groupings of people that meet within a town (defined by such things as age, gender, race) and regroup them mentally and physically. I felt that this enables a new viewpoint to develop and encompass a much broader plan. In order to start a discussion with the people of Keswick, “I am a Dish” accessed the community at a very local level through the inclusive subject of food. Yvette Rawlinson said to me on my initial visit:“ When I was travelling on the train in Europe, I was offered food by a stranger, by way of bringing us closer together.” I wanted to use a subject that we all have in common to engage the individual and used food to do that.

We may never find a piece of art that everyone can agree on, but opening the discussion with a familiar subject such as food and finding a warm welcome to the town within it, is my starting point. This process has hopefully brought a greater understanding of the public and their perception of art in order to formulate what the town wants in terms of public art.


Everyone who participates will receives a badge to wear. By wearing them in the street connections can be made with other badge wearers, an acknowledgement of the project and the choice of food - expressing an opinion on a subject people are passionate about in their likes and dislikes.



Keswick Reminder

I AM A DISH written by Nicholas Graham


Pupils in Year 8 at Keswick School became part of a living, breathing art exhibition last Thursday when Glasgow-based artist Nicola Atkinson-Davidson’s public art project “I Am A Dish” came to the school.

“I Am A Dish” aims to connect up Keswick people through the shared passion of food – by asking us to identify, and identify with, our favourite meal. The pupils had made designs for badges inspired by the foods they like best, and Nicola – who confesses to a passion for fruit scones – was at the school to tell them about her own work as a public artist in places as far field as Cuba and Bosnia, and to give awards to the best and most imaginative designs.

Altogether pupils produced 148 different food designs of which 32 were picked out by Nicola as exceptional and received special ‘I Am A Dish’ badges. Favourites included lots of chocolate, ice-cream, easter eggs and sweeties, but beef, potatoes, fish and duck had their fans too – and health-conscious Matthew Orrison chose organic food as his favourite feast.


Pupils Kathryn Holt (Chocolate), Helen Cropper (Smarties), Charlotte Illman (Ice cream), Harriet Ashbridge (Starburst), Ross Irving (Tomatoes) and Natalie Huddart (Sweets) were especially commended by Head of Art Helen Sadowksi and are pictured with some of their designs. Also picked out for special notice were Kate Orrell (Ice cream) and Lewis Ryecroft (Meat: Cannibalism Is Good!). Helen Sadowksi said the project had been a great success – “The kids now see art in an entirely new light – as something interactive.”

“I Am A Dish” will be serving a second course in Keswick in the months of May and June when townsfolk will be turning themselves into a Keswick-wide public art event aimed at making more connections through their favourite foods. Anybody can join in, and many groups and individuals already have. Among the favourite dishes that will be on people’s badges – spaghetti alla carbonara, wild Alaskan salmon and of course the ever-popular Cumberland Sausage. But whose favourites are they? You’ll be able to find out in May. Artist Nicola said – “Everyone who participates will receive a badge to wear. By wearing them in the street connections can be made with other badge wearers, an acknowledgement of the project and the choice of food - expressing an opinion on a subject people are passionate about in their likes and dislikes.”



A Night of Music and Food at Keswick Museum

Last Saturday evening (6th) 50 people gathered at the Museum to attend a double-event. The evening marked the beginning of the ‘I am a Dish’ display and the ‘Ceramics from Cumbria 2’ selling exhibition. Jamie Barnes from the museum started the event by welcoming everyone and thanking them for coming out to the Museum on such a sunny evening. Jamie explained the double purpose of the evening and a little about the ‘I am a Dish’ project which represents the first stage of creating a Public Art Strategy for Keswick. The lead artist of ‘I am a Dish’ - Nicola Atkinson.Davidson carried on by explaining how supportive the people of Keswick have been to her and that she will now go away and write a report on her findings.

Jamie then introduced the musical part of the evening. Nicola brought with her from her home area of Glasgow five musicians who had made two original compositions for Keswick Museum’s famous Musical Stones of Skiddaw based around the theme of food. The musicains were Bill Wells (Musical Stones), Hanna Tuulikki (Recorder), Chris Hladowski (Bazouki), Aby Vulliamy (Cello) and George Murray (Trombone). These songs were greeted well by the audience and it was particularly impressive as the first song saw all five musicians playing the Stones simultaneously. The band then performed their version of the Scottish traditional song ‘John Barleycorn’. To finish off the band were joined by Jamie Barnes from the Museum on harmonica for a blues improvisation.

When the ‘I am a Dish’ display of selected badge designs from Keswick School finishes, the pictures will all be donated to the school.

‘I am a Dish’ display continue until 28th June.


Badge by Kate Orrell




Some esoteric thoughts on 11.11, musical stones and my favourite dish by Chris Hladowski


Keswick People Choice





Paisley and Furth, Glasgow and Nuremberg


Helpful Links:




Nicola Atkinson Davidson profile


Willie Miller


Janet Benton


Bill Wells


Hanna Tuulikki


Chris Hladowski


Aby Vulliamy


George Murray

Nick Palmer

© Nicola Atkinson.Does Fly. All images taken and created by Nicola Atkinson.Does Fly unless otherwise stated. Site produced by The Public & NADFLY.  

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