Introducing Katy Stewart our artist/chef
Katy is an artist and chef who moved to the North East six years ago, starting her own bakery business Postcard Bakery, which delivers to cafes and restaurants around Aberdeen as well as selling at a monthly market stall. Through her art she focuses on human impact on landscape and explores the dynamic processes which shape the planet, physical and geological, and the interactions which we impose upon the land through engineering and agriculture. For the last three years Katy has worked at Newton Dee Camphill Village where she cooks and shares meals with the household using vegetables grown according to biodynamic principles.
Katy’s Bread and Butter Project
Katy sourced a 25kg bag of local organic wheat from a farm near Macduff and travelled with it to the nearest operating mill, Golspie Mill in Sutherland, talking with farmers, bakers, homemakers, people who used to work the land and in the mills on the way.
Her wheat was ground into a Macduff flour and brought back to Macduff, to share and bake with people she has meet in the community. Katy is interested in hearing stories on the changing regional industry, memories of farming and milling in earlier times; she gathers recipes and techniques for bread making and documents her experience. She has led a bread making workshop with the local community using the flour to produce a new recipe of Macduff loaf, a new unique bread for the town.
Katy has been sharing her journey and her experiences publicly at the Macduff Revival Weekender. Her exhibition contained a map of her journey, a documentary film of the interviews she did with regional producers and farmers, a text that explained her work, bags of flour for people to take away, and an installation of three types of bread following the same recipe but using different types of flour. Exhibition visitors were encouraged to take a bag of flour and make a Macduff Loaf in their own kitchen.
Katy talks about the journey and her research in her initial proposal in beautiful words:
“Starting the process of research for this proposal, I was struck by how something as seemingly simple as bread has become so complicated for everyone but the consumer in the check-out line for the supermarket. Wheat grown in the North-East is transported to mills the other side of the country, mills owned by a handful of large companies, to be made into a product whose consistency makes up for a lack any individual character. While Scotland produces vast amounts of wheat (a million tons in 2015), little, if any, makes it to local bread makers. And the wheat grown are from generic varieties sown to meet the needs of this global demand. The loaves on the shelf at the supermarket bear no connection to any particular place, any particular variety of wheat or tradition of milling or baking. The complex ecology of farms, mills and bakeries have been replaced by a monoculture within my living memory. I’ve focused here on bread but much the same dynamic can be seen in the dairy industry. I am interested in how some of this local character could return to bread and butter in Macduff, and with it a mode of production that might harbor a richer, more resilient, mode of farming, food production and consumption that might provide better food and even some decent jobs for people here.
From the changing array of ingredients brought by the turning seasons, to the careful rhythms of sourcing, storing, using and replenishing stocks, and the everyday skill of improvising with the materials to hand, cooking, and baking in particular, is a craft that nurtures a sense of connection to the world around me. It is this connection which is in the process of being lost within industrial agriculture and food production. Not only this, but also the human warmth of time spent cooking and eating together. From my experience working as a chef in the North East, I know there is a real hunger not only for good quality, local food but also for the experiences of community that cooking and eating food together can nurture. It is these needs that this proposal addresses.”