A Stranger in my Mother's Kitchen

Marchbank, Celine ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0009-0003-6254-9787 (2022) A Stranger in my Mother's Kitchen. Dewi Lewis Publishing, UK. ISBN 978-1-911306-86-3

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Official URL: https://www.celinemarchbank.com/work/a-stranger-in...

Abstract / Summary

A Stranger in my Mother’s Kitchen is a five-year exploration into the grieving process told through photographs, writing and cooking my mother’s recipes. It shares a universal story of loss whilst also celebrating a food legacy. The book includes colour photographs, writings on grief, text contributions and a selection of 17 printed recipes as inserts. Designed by Loose Joints and published by Dewi Lewis.

My mother Sue Miles had an expansive career as a head chef in Britain; she was the first female head chef in Britain and the first woman to run an all-female professional kitchen and she nurtured the talent of many of today’s most respected British chefs. She led a fascinating and varied life, described in her obituary in The Guardian newspaper as ‘the doyenne of the counterculture and the British restaurant revolution’, but died sadly aged 66 in 2010.

While clearing out her precessions in the house I grew up in, I started to discover her handwritten recipes; beautiful documents I had no idea existed. I never saw her cook from recipes, she cooked from instinct, and that was how I learnt from her. I feared many of her recipes had been lost, I took for granted we would have many years to pass these on, but sadly her illness got in the way. These delicate and beautifully grubby (and extremely precious) pieces of paper became a focus of fascination, I could not simply put them back into a box.

As a daughter, I felt an overpowering need to do something with this incredible archive, for both my mother and for myself. I wanted to mark her legacy whilst also feeling more connected to her. I decided to cook all her recipes, to learn the things I hadn’t had a chance to and photograph the process. This work became an important part of my grieving process. It allowed me to feel the warmth of eating my mother’s food again, to feel the feeling of being nurtured and cared for once more. The recipes were haunted with memories; the smells took me back to moments we shared like nothing else.

The book design unpacks the layers of memory, grief and time through an innovative design: with half-folded pages creating 'pockets' throughout the design, the recipes are replicates as loose facsimiles, tucked into the pages like a scrapbook of culinary memories, encouraging the reader to take out and cook from her recipes.

The book was nominated for the Kraszna-Krausz Book Awards 2023 and exhibited at Photo London 2023 at Somerset House, London. The work was also featured in the Financial Times Magazine, The Guardian, Photomonitor and many more publications. Celine wass an invited speaker for the Kraszna-Krausz Book Awards Symposium 'Perspectives of Motherhood' held at the V&A Museum, South Kensington, London 2023.

Item Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-911306-86-3
Subjects: Writing & Journalism > Creative Writing
Communication > Graphic Design
Arts > Fine Art
Arts > Photography > Photographs
Arts > Photography
Courses by Department: The Institute of Photography > Photography
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Celine Marchbank
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2023 15:46
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2023 15:46
URI: https://repository.falmouth.ac.uk/id/eprint/4881

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