Tolbooth Stirling is set to host a new photography exhibition when it reopens its doors later this month, celebrating our local ‘Food Heroes’.
Featuring the work of talented Stirling photographer Julie Howden, the exhibition will showcase the people who helped feed the region in lockdown.
Julie explained her inspiration for the project: “Back in March 2020 life as we knew it was turned upside down. Touching surfaces and breathing air inside busy public places suddenly became dangerous, but we still needed to eat.
“We couldn’t track down an elusive supermarket delivery slot and the tomato and potato seeds I’d planted were going to take some time. It was relief when we came across the Stirling NeighbourFood online food market, which was founded out of a belief in local and sustainable food shopping.
“Delivered by ‘saviours’ every Thursday, the boxes were filled with organic and seasonal fruit and vegetables, artisan sourdough bread, delicious croissants, pinhead porridge oats, honey, fresh butter, incredible eggs and meats from Stirlingshire farms. The quality of all this was brilliant and helped fill the dark days of lockdown with light.”
Shopping local inspired Julie to start to photograph the local food community. She continued: “I began asking to photograph the people behind the food out of curiosity and an instinct for focusing on something positive. I’m hugely grateful to the industrious people in Stirlingshire who worked hard and continue to work hard to keep supply chains moving and the community fed.
“Living through this pandemic has brought the issue of food security and the importance of community into sharper focus and there has never been a more urgent time to reflect on the impact of our food choices on our health, economy and future on this planet.
“By sharing these photographs, I hope to celebrate our local food producers, who had our back in hard times, and the energy and creativity that they pour into their produce and community. We have a wonderful larder here in Stirlingshire. I take comfort and joy in this.”
The exhibition is funded by a Scene Stirling micro grant, a funding scheme designed to support local artists and creatives in lockdown.
Kevin Harrison, Manager of the Scene Stirling partnership, said: “Julie’s exhibition will help spread the message of what great food producers we have on our doorstep and make more people think about where their food comes from and the impact of their shopping choices. We hope it will spark wider discussion and raise awareness of local food production, food security and the impact our food choices have on our health and environment; as well as the local economy.”
Following on from the project, Julie is continuing to support local food and drink by working closely with Forth Valley Food and Drink: a network set up to encourage people to buy local.
Carolyn McGill, coordinator of the network said: “During the pandemic, food has been a catalyst to bring us together. Whether volunteering at your local food larder, staying home and baking banana bread with the kids, experimenting with sourdough or switching to shop local at your neighbourhood farm shop, market or deli.
“Coronavirus, whether through choice or necessity, is changing the way we shop for food; and that’s great news for the local economy if we can make those new shopping habits last.
“We’re delighted to be working with Julie to help bring the story of Stirling’s rich local larder to life.”
‘Food Heroes’ runs from Wednesday 28th April to Saturday 15th May at Tolbooth Stirling. Admission is free but viewing slots must be booked in advance at: https://stirlingevents.org/tolbooth-event/food-heroes