Edible Histories is a new arts project underway as part of the Bristol 650 celebrations.
Throughout the year, five objects that tell the story of Bristol will be selected from the following five local venues: MShed, Aerospace Bristol, Wild Place Project, Tyntesfield and Glenside Hospital Museum.
1-2m sized replicas of the objects will then be created in Fairtrade chocolate by the award-winning Bristol chocolatier Zara’s Chocolates – wrapped in gold foil and displayed with the original pieces within these much-loved attractions.
Edible Histories will therefore create an extra incentive for people to visit these heritage sites across the Bristol, and the region – important as we look to help them get back on their feet after a tricky last few years.
The first chocolate facsimile to be made is a 1m diameter ship’s wheel from the MShed museum. Representing the city’s trading history, the wheel came from the decommissioned ship TSS Bayano, which for years sailed bananas and rum from the Caribbean, and also served in the first and second world wars. This sculpture is now temporarily on display in The Galleries, in Bristol.
The second object is a giant 1m diameter replica of a button from Glenside Hospital Museum. Bristol’s purpose built asylum was completed in 1861. This button represents the many patients who were provided with care here. Buttons would have been stitched onto clean robust clothes made for patients in the sewing room to provide them with suitable clothing to work within the hospital. The artwork is now on display for the public to see within the museum.
Chocolate Smashing and Distribution Event!
In October, the five chocolate objects will be brought together for the first time as part of a free public event. Chosen through an online ballot, 10 members of the public, will ceremoniously break the objects, using specially designed giant hammers. These special few will be the first to taste the chocolate and distribute some to the public who’ve come to witness the event. Raising money for local charities as a part of this event, Luke and his team are also distributing the chocolate to foodbanks across the city. Details about this public event will be announced later this year.
Luke Jerram said: “I hope this new artwork will engage people in finding out about our city’s history, in a fun and interesting way. To engage with history by literally consuming and digesting it!”.
The arts project has the backing of Metro Mayor Dan Norris’s West of England Mayoral Combined Authority, who is this year celebrating the 150th anniversary of the chocolate Easter egg we all know and love – first produced here Bristol by J.S. Fry and Sons back in 1873.
Metro Mayor added: “Bristolians can feel rightly proud about our chocolate manufacturing history. But we’ve brought and contributed so, so much to this country, and across the globe. This is a brilliant project celebrating the fascinating history around some of the objects and places that define this most extraordinary city – told through everyone’s favourite sweet substance”.
Bristol’s involvement in the trans-Atlantic slave trade is an important part of our local history, Mr Jerram added, heavily linked to the production of chocolate, through cocoa and sugar farming. Edible Histories will provide an opportunity to engage with this challenging part of our city’s identity, he said.
Bristol City Council’s Deputy Mayor Asher Craig added: “I welcome this project, including the decision not to shy away from some of the more difficult and challenging topics Bristolians need to talk about, and address. It’s important that we take the time to learn everything – the good and the bad – about Bristol’s history to ensure future generations are educated and feel connected to this city”.
Bristol is today home to many, many independent chocolate makers – using creative talent and ethical practices including fairly traded chocolate, like Zara’s Chocolates in Southville. The commitment from chocolate companies to learn from the past actions, both good and bad, of their predecessors is important, Luke added.
BBC Points West
Bristol Evening Post
With thanks to the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority for their support of this project.