Feeding the 500 - where art meets food at city centre Harvest Festival

The meal staged in Philadelphia
The meal staged in Philadelphia
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70 x 7 The Meal, Act XXXIX by artists Lucy + Jorge Orta will be staged in Cathedral Square on Sunday - the 39th dinner in their ongoing series of ritual meals and publications focused on critical social and environmental issues. It will be the first large-scale outdoor dinner they have staged in the UK.

The event for Peterborough will seat 500 people comparable to those staged in America and Europe, placing Peterborough alongside Philadelphia, Aspen, Turin, Monaco, Mexico City and others.

According to Lucy Orta: “Our vocation as artists has been to imagine and realise publicly engaging art.

“Since the first intimate70x7 The Meal in the small town of Innsbruck, Austria in 2000, we have staged meals called ‘acts’ that have united tens of thousands of people throughout the world around an ever-unfolding table to debate and discuss issues that affect our local or global communities.

“Through our choice of unusual settings to stage our meals and the creation of unique table runners and limited edition Royal Limoges plates to accompany each act, we look to transform the daily ritual of dining together into an experience to be remembered and re-enacted, forever.

“But our creative and intellectual quest is not satisfied until we are convinced that the art has become a living sculpture, where the public is no longer a passive spectator and where the art has been generated by the community and become a meaningful part of people’s lives.”

The two editions of Royal Limoges porcelain plates created for Peterborough have been inspired by the autumn equinox and the two harvest festivals of Mabon and Lammas.

Further artworks by Lucy + Jorge Orta for The Meal include a silk jacquard table runner, with gold thread, woven by the last British silk weavers in Suffolk. The runner will be placed on the Offering Table, and the local community have been invited to bring home-baked bread to the table for display.

The produce for the Meal itself has been grown over the summer by local allotments, The Green Backyard, and local farms.

It will be cooked on site in an open air kitchen under the Guildhall, by Lee Clarke, head chef at the nearby Clarkes restaurant alongside a team of volunteer assistant chefs and bakers.

At the end of the Meal, the artists intend to cast the community made loaves into aluminium.

The resulting sculpture will be exhibited in Peterborough City Gallery and Museum in September 2016, as part of a new solo exhibition by Lucy + Jorge Orta on the theme of Food.