Uniting Leeds and Mexico for a food and art-based celebration of those loved and lost.
Do you have someone special to remember and commemorate? Whether it’s David Bowie or your grandmother, those we hear about via news reports or a person you think of each year on the same day… The Grief Series asks people to contribute memories and offerings to Ofrendas - shrines inspired by a Mexican tradition in Leeds and Bradford, this April and May.
To celebrate Day of the Dead in Mexico, people build Ofrenda shrines to remember friends, family and people of significance. Ofrendas are brightly coloured displays including tiered tables filled with photographs, flowers, candles, food and significant objects. They can be built in homes, schools, places of work, bars and public squares.
Over the past two years, Leeds artist Ellie Harrison has travelled to Mexico to research this tradition, exploring a culture honouring death as a part of life and establishing rituals for reconnecting with grief.
In the coming weeks, the public are invited to join renowned artists from Mexico’s The Faro De Oriente and Ellie Harrison for a feast and viewing of this collaboration. They can raise a glass of Mezcal, eat from a menu combining choice Leeds and Mexican cuisine and see sculptures that artists have created with participants from across Yorkshire.
Taking over empty shop units, artists including Marco Medina, Magnolia Gonzalez, Jonathan Perez, and Christian Cruz will spend a week in Bradford then Leeds, working with groups and the public to build the Ofrendas. People can add to artworks at any time by bringing photos of heroes, ancestors or loved ones. They also have an opportunity to offer food, drink or flowers: A beer in memory of a beloved brother or a mother’s famous chocolate cake... There are crafting activities for those wishing to have a go. Equally, people can feel free to sit back and get thoroughly immersed in the whole experience.
This residency culminates in a meal, as part of Leeds International Festival; bringing Day of the Dead colour and music to Leeds, whatever the weather, The Feast is a chance to eat great food, chat to international artists, celebrate, commemorate and share.