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—  To make an appointment at our new space in Chinatown, Manhattan, email lulu@far-near.media

—  To make an appointment at our new space in Chinatown, Manhattan, email lulu@far-near.media

—  To make an appointment at our new space in Chinatown, Manhattan, email lulu@far-near.media

—  To make an appointment at our new space in Chinatown, Manhattan, email lulu@far-near.media

—  To make an appointment at our new space in Chinatown, Manhattan, email lulu@far-near.media

—  To make an appointment at our new space in Chinatown, Manhattan, email lulu@far-near.media

—  To make an appointment at our new space in Chinatown, Manhattan, email lulu@far-near.media

—  To make an appointment at our new space in Chinatown, Manhattan, email lulu@far-near.media

—  To make an appointment at our new space in Chinatown, Manhattan, email lulu@far-near.media

—  To make an appointment at our new space in Chinatown, Manhattan, email lulu@far-near.media

—  To make an appointment at our new space in Chinatown, Manhattan, email lulu@far-near.media

—  To make an appointment at our new space in Chinatown, Manhattan, email lulu@far-near.media

12.07.2019
Film

Chiao Chen

01.08.2019
Photo Series

Andrew Kung

05.07.2019
Photo Series

Dominick Barcelona, Alex Lee

03.08.2019
Photo Series

Nicole Ngai

Chinese Table
A Seat at Our Table

Kenneth Lam

29.03.2024
Event Photo Series
A
A

Immigrant children are often working from a young age. My first ever job was setting the tables at my parent’s restaurant. I would clean chopsticks and wipe down menus. At 15, I illegally worked the bar.  I witnessed food as a means for livelihood but also as a way of education. Living above (and essentially in) the restaurant, my understanding of food became political, historical and emotional.

Kenneth Lam Seat at our table

Kenneth Lam next to his photograph

Food is language. My parents never really said I love you, but they fed me, and they cooked for the British to send me to school and eventually buy us a home. Western food has often been glorified and displayed in composed still life paintings. I wanted to capture dishes from culture’s outside the Western Canon, starting by interviewing Redbridge residents about their stories growing up in Ilford, and the meals and rituals carried out around their tables.

Nitesh

Nitesh: Food is a common language, I’d watch my mum cook and I learnt from her. The woman would prepare food on the floor and we would prepare dishes on the kitchen table.

Nitesh Table
Khim and Mimi

Khim: When I moved to London in the 70s, I didn’t speaking English. I was one of the first nurses to join the NHS. The food was horrible and cold, I ate things like spam salad. Me and the other Malaysian Nurses we would gather in the dorms and talk about what we cooked at home. In the beginning, I would be so upset during Lunar New Year, hearing the laughter and the joy of my family preparing food one the other side of the phone. Now, every new year, everyone is welcome through my door, we eat and we laugh and we chat and gossip.

Mimi: I opened London’s first Thai pub. I served pints and Thai food. If you are new to the country, you have to make money to survive, send the children to school and feed the family. Immigration is not easy but we did it.

Vio and Daughter

Vio: Many Romanians come to England and do not speak the language. I work as a translator and interpreter. With language barriers there can be a lot of miscommunication and complications. Food can communicate for us when we don’t have the words. There is a stigma towards us Romanians, but one thing about us is we will feed you and welcome you into our homes. We are proud of our heritage and it’s in our blood to be generous.

Vio's daughter
Mary

Mary: Coming to London was hard. There were signs that said No Blacks, No Irish. So we went to the Irish pubs. We didn’t just drink for starters. It was a safe place, people brought their instruments and we’d play music and games, we’d talk and we would share food. I loved it, it was home and it was safe. We’d have parties there, birthdays, celebrations, it was more of a community centre than an establishment.

To the Pub
Photography and Interviews

Kenneth Lam

A Seat At Our Table is on view from 9 March – 12 October 2024 at SPACE Ilford, 10 Oakfield Rd, IG1 1ZJ

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