"I remember the visiting the museum for the first time and being overwhelmed by the hardship faced by the poor who were interred here: the mindless work and long hours, the paltry food portions, the splitting up of families. I’m sure many of us are familiar with workhouse horror stories, so I was surprised to find a census from 1861 listing all inmates at Ripon Workhouse and to discover so many older people living here. Usually we think conditions were so harsh that only the fittest and strongest survived, but Ripon seemed to buck the trend. Here, nearly half of inmates were over 60 years old and 90% of those were living well into their 70s and 80s. So the question arose, was there something about regular meals and company that led to longer life? " Pippa Hale

There will up to 50 volunteers participating in the making of CONSUMPTION who will be filmed preparing, cooking and eating a typical Victorian Workhouse meal during a day long performance for this new artwork which links past and present experiences within a specific location. 

Action will take place in the original Workhouse Kitchen and Dining Hall, this is part of the Workhouse Main Block which is opening up to visitors for the first time in July 2017 as part of the Workhouse Museum’s expansion plans. The final film will be screened in the same empty Dining Hall.

Pippa’s research into the museum’s archives will ensure that this is an accurate representation of a Victorian pauper’s meal in 1861, with ingredients, recipes and preparation techniques as well as etiquette and seating plans all drawn from historic sources.

Volunteers will prepare a Workhouse lunch using a traditional menu, recipes and cooking techniques under the direction of a professional cook, Gaynor Eden. This will be served and consumed in the original Dining Hall, where participants will be segregated by sex as would have occurred in the 19th century.

Filming takes place on Wednesday 7 June and visitors will be able to view Consumption in the dining hall from Wednesday 19 July 2017.

About the artist:
Pippa Hale is a contemporary artist based in Leeds. She is interested in social history and geography and her work includes large-scale installations both in heritage venues and the public realm. Born in 1971, Coventry, Pippa studied at the University of Leeds. Previous projects include ‘Beyond The Dustheaps’ at the Dickens Museum (London); ‘Pool’ a temporary installation at Leeds International Pool commissioned by Leeds City Council; ‘North and South’ for Southampton Art Gallery and ‘Yarn’ commissioned by The Culture Company for Leeds City Council and Holbeck Urban Village.

Opening Times: Workhouse Museum 11am – 4pm, Courthouse / Prison and Police Museum 1 – 4pm Full opening times →