Art Festival
11 — 27 Nov. 2022

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We acknowledge that we meet on unceded sovereign lands of the Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin Nation.

We offer our respect to the Elders of these lands and to all First Nations people who reside here.

Enter Site

But First We Eat

A group of people are sitting around a table in a dimly lit room. The table has been carefully set with beautiful ceramics, flowers and candles.
When 13 Nov | 7pm – 10pm | Michaela Gleave, The Substation 14 Nov | 6pm – 9pm | Girma Yifreshewa, Footscray Community Arts 26 Nov | 6pm – 9pm | Hoang Tran Nguyen, Footscray Community Arts
Who Jia Jia Chen and Claire Lehmann
Cost $65 — $105
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Clay is from the earth, transformation of this material from ‘natural’ to ‘man made’, performs an alchemy that’s one of the earliest forms of human expression and utility. Referencing the long and intimate history between ceramics and food, ‘But First We Eat’ celebrates the historic importance of feasting through staged ceremonial dinners showcasing the ancient method of clay baked food. The project explores the foods of different cultures as well as the shared rituals surrounding the act of creating and sharing meals; a language of its own.

In collaboration with three artists from the Neighbourhood program, three dinners will be hosted by Fluff Corp and one of the artists. The guest artist will help select a palette of flavours for the menu, inspired by their own cultural backgrounds, artistic practice and favourite foods.  

Dinner with Girma Yifreshewa 

Date: 14 November 2022, 6–9 pm

Location: Footscray Community Arts

A dinner inspired by the influences and sounds of Ethiopia.

Prepare yourself for a musical feast, as celebrated jazz pianist Girma Yifreshewa takes to the keys for a live performance while dishes from his home of Ethiopia are served with a Fluffcorp twist.

A collaboration between Yifreshewa, the local Ethiopian community and Fluffcorp, this Neighbourhood Festival dinner showcases the magic of art, storytelling, music, food and ceremony for a transformative sensory adventure at Footscray Community Arts. 

Girma is in Melbourne for a series of performances, including “The Spirit of Nile/አባይ” as part of the Neighbourhood Festival at Footscray Community Arts.

Dinner with Hoang Tran Nguyen

Location: Footscray Community Arts

Date: 26 November 2022, 6–9 pm

As the sun sets in the west, join artist Hoang Tran Nguyen and Fluffcorp for a celebration of Vietnamese food, culture and performance in the outdoor amphitheatre at Footscray Community Arts.

Nguyen’s practice centres on the importance of safeguarding Vietnamese language and community in the inner west. 

Community is the driver behind this event with performances, hands on food experiences and a spread of Vietnamese inspired dishes served on banana and lotus leaves. 

Nguyen is presenting multiple events at the festival including his exhibition ‘House of Mother Tongue, House of Other Tongue’ and Hát Xe Buýt (Singing Bus) and Language & Community Symposium.

Dinner with Michaela Gleave

Location: The Substation

Date: 13 November 2022, 7–10pm

Expect an atmospheric journey of science and food at the iconic Substation.

Michaela Gleave is a Sydney-based multi-disciplinary artist of English-German heritage, whose work sees science, art and technology coalesce as part of Neighbourhood Festival.

Rummaging the pages of her great grandmother’s cookbook ‘Mein Kochbuch’, Fluffcorp work with Gleave to catapult culinary traditions to the plate for this intimate clay baked dinner.

Michaela Gleave is presenting her work ‘Between Us‘ as part of the Neighbourhood program presented by  Footscray Community Arts + The Substation.

All Neighbourhood tickets are purchased via each venue’s website. To make ticket purchases, click on the ‘Get your tickets’ link, and you will automatically be redirected.

Meet the Artists

Jia Jia Chen Read more +

Jia Jia Chen is a ceramic artist working across art, design and food. Her interdisciplinary approach is driven by her interest in exploring the diverse applications of the material through function, decoration and industry within the framework of creative production. Born in China and raised in Australia, her practise draws inspiration from both Eastern and Western aesthetics; merging and reinterpreting iconic symbols into new and personal expressions whilst alluding to its complex history of cultural and economic exchange. She engages with the process of making as a transposing of conscious and unconscious ideas, the internal to the external and the physical to the metaphysical. She frequently works in collaborative projects with creative practitioners from diverse fields, which stems from her desire to explore potentials of cross-industry artistic outcomes. 

Chen recently graduated with a Master’s of Contemporary Art at VCA and was the recipient of the Art150 Fellowship. She has collaborated with Speak Percussion for Assembly Operation, Sophia Brous for Supersense ‘Festival of the Ecstatic’ and was commissioned by the City of Melbourne for a show at City Gallery called ‘Dream Machine’, the work from that show was acquired into their permanent collection.

Claire Lehmann Read more +

Claire ceramic practise spans everything from bespoke lighting commissions to product design for commercial clients, curation and exhibition design. Claire has an Arts Degree from Melbourne University with an Art History major. She then studied Electronic Design and Interactive Media (EDIM) at Victoria University and then a Diploma of Ceramics at Holmesglen, TAFE.

Her arts practise has similarly evolved alongside study, shifting from painting, drawing and digital media, to object design, sculpture, lighting design, exhibition design and an interest in relational arts practises.

Claire’s ceramic lighting stems from an obsession with luminosity, shape, texture, process, weight and material tolerance. Taking cues from industrial design to create delicate domestic objects relates to an interest in challenging the boundaries and assumptions around materiality in object design. After graduating with awards in ceramics in 2017, she was awarded a grant to attend a residency at the European Keramic Work Centre (EKWC) in The Netherlands.

Fluff Corp. Read more +

Fluff Corp is the creative partnership of ceramic artists Claire Lehmann and Jia Jia Chen. Using the material’s history to inform their ceramic activities, they aim to promote the connective and social potential of the medium whilst exploring its intimacy and ubiquity in daily life and its relationship to food and design culture.

Alongside immersive catering events and an object based practice, Fluff Corp has curated exhibitions for Melbourne Design Week, including an exhibition and series of clay baked dinners ‘But First We Eat’ in 2019 and ‘The Talking Ornament’ in 2021, an exhibition which investigated how objects speak and the role of public space and monuments in urban life.

Fluff Corp. continues to look at new ways of engaging with ceramic materials and the public. Influences include; Peter Greenaway, 1980’s sci-fi set design, 1970’s interior design, Gordon Matta Clark’s FOOD, the writings of M.F.K Fisher, food history, and the work of Marije Vogelzang.


Wheelchair accessible

Events Partners

Presented by Footscray Community Arts, The Substation and Ilbijerri Theatre Company. Proudly supported by Australian Government; Australia Council for the Arts and RISE.