Reviving traditions, revitalising health

This November, dot-art Services is launching a new project led by artist and film maker Bryn Davies and in support of the Decade of Health and Wellbeing, which will explore food as medicine, hygiene and nutrition with older people from diverse communities across Liverpool, and share the findings through an online video archive.

There is an abundance of knowledge, passed down through the generations, to be gained from our elders, who lived in a pre-pharmaceutical, processed food, chemically sterilized, domestic life.

However, concerns are growing that this knowledge of natural, sustainable living will fade away when we most need it. Knowledge of the science of food has been replaced by branding and marketing of products that claim to make our lives better. Yet our youth has the highest levels of obesity and malnutrition and are making decisions on what to eat and drink based on the name on the outside and not the contents inside.

The prevalence of obesity has increased steadily in England over the last 30 years. Now 1 in 5 adults is obese. Since the 1980’s the proportion of obese people has trebled. The prevalence of obesity increases with age. (Source,
This project will engage people in the local community; both those who have settled in Liverpool, and those born and bred here, sharing and archiving their knowledge for future generations, and improving the health and wellbeing of all involved.

“Reviving Traditions, Revitalising Health” will begin with three Brainstorming Sessions, open to anyone with a story or skill to share, which will take place at Pagoda Arts, the African Elders Association and MDI (Merseyside Dance Initiative). A selection of willing volunteers will then be asked to share or demonstrate their knowledge on camera at a special filming day in January. Bryn will then use this footage to produce a series of short films, which together will form an online archive of traditional skills, knowledge and expertise. Finally in the spring, the website will be launched at a series of sharing events, at which the films produced will be screened for participants, friends and families.

Bryn describes his inspiration for the project:
“I spent several months working and travelling in China where my camera was repeatedly drawn to the activeness and participation of the elderly community. My curiosity grew as I worked with more and more people; there was always an answer related to health: “drink this it is good for stomach”, “this cleans the blood”. It seemed second nature to know the properties of food. On returning I shared the images and experiences with the Pagoda Chinese community centre and questioned whether these traditions continue for those now settled in Liverpool and British born Chinese (BBC). I discovered that due to the change in lifestyle it is now a more private affair and BBC’s are becoming more accustomed to western culture than that of their ancestors.”

Bryn then approached dot-art and we discussed how to make this theme into an inspirational visual project, which would contribute to the 5 Ways to Wellbeing, and ensure that this rich vein of knowledge was not lost.

The open events will take place as follows:
Tuesday 20th November, 1-3pm: African Elders Association, 138 Granby Street, Liverpool, L8 2TX
Thursday 22nd November, 12.30-2.30pm: MDI, 24 Hope Street, Liverpool, L1 9BX
Thursday 27th November, 1-3pm: Pagoda Arts / Chinese Community Centre, Henry Street, Liverpool, L1 5BU

For more details, or to register your interest in attending, please call 0845 0176660.

This project has been generously supported by Liverpool City Council’s Culture and Wellbeing Grass Roots Grants Programme.

Liverpool Waterfront