Fair Share Fare

Copy of refuge 2016

refuge 2016

Refuge is a 5 year transdisciplinary project that brings together artists, community members and emergency services to investigate arts and culture’s role in developing preparedness and building community resilience for climate related disasters. Fair Share Fare artists Jen Rae and Dawn Weleski were invited to participate in Refuge 2016, at Arts House.  
Arts House is located in the North Melbourne Town Hall, one of City of Melbourne’s designated metropolitan Relief Centre’s. In July 2016, Arts House successfully launched the pilot iteration of Refuge with a 24hr artist-led emergency management exercise. We commissioned six artists to look at a service provision within the Relief Centre - sleep, wellbeing, food, communications & energy and to deliver projects over 24hrs. Through an interdisciplinary approach these artists engaged the public and locals in an experimental, multi-sensory rehearsal.  Video courtesy of Arts House.

Click here for more information about Refuge 2016 at the Arts House website.




You're hungry.  You haven't eaten in days.  The shops are closed.  Your food supplies are running short.  What do you do?  Do you have the skills to kill and prepare an animal to eat?  What's available in your neighbourhood - rats? mice? pigeons? flying foxes? rabbits?  Would you know how to skin, wash and gut the animal without contaminating it?  Fair Share Fare's Austerity Cooking Demonstrations at REFUGE offered audiences an intimate food conversation about preparing for emergencies - what to store in your larder (e.g. clarified butter); how to make basic flat breads out of three ingredients; and how to skin, gut and joint a rabbit for eating.  Stories and facts about feral food sources and settler food explorations & mishaps were interspersed in each demonstration. Following the Austerity Cooking Demonstrations, people were offered a serving of rabbit stew, wattleseed damper and clarified butter.   



The Relief Centre is open.  The Food Store is empty and there are mouths to feed - 50 of them.  You are greeted at the window and asked to help.  Upon agreement, you are given a task card and some cash. Your job is to to fulfil the task - to source a protein, vitamin/mineral, carbohydrate or fat item to help stock the Food Store.  North Melbourne is a food desert.  What protein will you find for $3? Can you barter with the local cafe for day-olds? What would you want to be given for food in an emergency?  You've decided and return to the Food Store with your purchase/barter/foraged food.  This time you are invited into the Food Store for a debriefing and documentation about the rationale for your food item.  You are rewarded for your efforts with your own ration.

Fair Share Fare presented the Food Store at REFUGE to act as a data generator - to test, reveal, expose and gain understanding about food knowledge, industriousness and empathy. Participants as a collective in this performance were responsible in sourcing food for 50 overnight REFUGE participants.  See some of the food store participant food items documented below, along with some of the corresponding task cards.

Emergencies + Rationing + Privilege - More to come


For ten hours, the Food Store was in operation at the REFUGE Relief Centre.  The window received participants where tasks were assigned and currency given. The intention was to place participants in a position to make decisions about food for an unknown person/group of people.  Their choices for sourcing food in North Melbourne was limited as this inner city suburb is a food desert.  Choices became more limited at different times of the day.  In a real emergency, North Melbourne has approximately 3 days worth of food stored (e.g. in grocery stores, restaurant fridges, homes, etc.).  This raises the question about the balance food privilege in the everyday versus in a disaster.  Those who may be new to the area, live in a new flat and/or eat out on a regular basis may have a certain privilege everyday, but in a disaster, they may be faced with critical food insecurity.  A person who has a garden, diverse local networks, food preparation skills and a larder may all of a sudden have greater privilege in that same emergency.  Food preparedness may be a life/death situation.  



 The gallery shows some of the food participants collected for the 50 people spending the night at the Refuge Relief Centre.  The task was designed to explore participant empathy.  What would you want to eat if you were in a relief centre?  What food brings you comfort?  What do you think others would want to eat? Participants ventured into the North Melbourne 'food desert' where there bartered with local restaurants for day-olds and with people who had their groceries walking on the street.  Some went to convenience stores for snacks like chocolate and chips.  Some used their own money to contribute or combined their money with others to purchase a more expensive food item.  Upon returning to the Food Store, participants were interviewed as to their rationale for the purchase and their food item was photographed.  In return, the Food Store 'rewarded' their efforts with a food ration and reward card.  Photos: Jared Kuvent



The task cards collected show the rationale for each purchase and reflect a scale of food literacy.  Some items chosen were logical considerations.  Some showed industriousness.  Some reflected an empathetic response. Photos: Emma Byrnes



Fair Share Fare developed sixteen rations for 'rewards' for participation in the food store based on historical WWII rationing, survival guides, contemporary food trends and austerity recipes.  Each ration was accompanied with a corresponding 'reward' card.  The reward cards offered recipes, DIY guides (e.g. how to prepare a bandicoot to eat), 101 medicinal and edible uses for Vegemite, etc.  See Reward Cards.



The Reward Cards accompanied the individual rations.  Research that informed the cards included: Indigenous breads, survival guide recipes, settler recipes (including recipes from the first cookbook published by a woman in Australia), home remedies, comfort foods and 'luxury' goods for comfort/trading potential.

FOOD STORE - more photos


Empty shelves.  Empty fridge.  How do we fill them and feed 50 overnight participants?  Who will go hungry?  Who will determine who gets fed?  What can be traded and what can be shared?  See the Evacuation and 'Black' Market.


Staging an Underground market (a.k.a. Black market)

In a disaster, water and food security become top priorities for emergency responders.  Underground markets can emerge quickly.  What are some of the factors to influence a black market*?  How might power shift in a black market?  What makes some people more vulnerable than others/more powerful than others in a food security/disaster scenario?  What are you prepared to eat?  How might today's food preferences change if faced with hunger in a disaster?  What does the body need for nourishment in the first 24 hours versus 3 days?  What about those with food health issues (e.g. diabetes, celiacs, infants, allergies, etc.)? These are some of the questions Fair Share Fare artists Jen Rae and Dawn Weleski posed to the 50 overnight participants.  Fair Share Fare created 49 ration boxes containing a selection of completed task cards from the Food Store activities, a small packages of Ruth Crow Tea, some strategic and some random assortments of rations.  One box contained cash - the change given throughout the day from food purchases.

During the evacuation at 10pm, Fair Share Fare relocated the Food Store shelves and fridge and all of the food collected.  Each participant selected their own ration box and returned to the main area for instruction.  Dawn and Jen facilitated a discussion about food security in disasters.  This prompted participants to start bartering and trading their rations with one another (e.g. powdered milk for Vegemite, vegetarians traded beef jerky for chocolate, Survival Balls for anything without peanuts, etc.).  Small groups formed.  Balances of privilege shifted.  Voices raised. Then the participant with the money box identified. He was instructed that he could make a decision what to do with the money on everyone's behalf; he could try to organise and come to a consensus; or he could come up with his own strategy (he could even just pocket the cash). After some deliberation with the group, it was decided that the money would be used to buy junk food at the shops and there were enough ingredients, if everyone agreed, to make pizzas and pasta.  Fair Share Fare and some volunteers returned to the kitchen for late night cooking.

*Fair Share Fare acknowledges the problematics of using 'black market' as a term.  Dawn and Jen discussed this with the overnight participants.  For clarity purposes in this writing, 'underground' and 'black' markets as terms are used interchangeably but have the same meaning - an underground economy to distribute goods or services, often in an illegal manner.



What does it mean to receive care?  Who cares for the carers in disasters?  These were a couple of the questions explored in the Recovery Community Breakfast.

What's the iconic food item in Australia?  More to come on the RECOVERY CENTRE...including the answer.



Photos from REFUGE 2016 at Arts House.  Photos: Bryony Jackson



Fair Share Fair commissioned 8th generation Tasseomancist (tea leaf reader) Annie O'Reilly to do tea readings of the Ruth Crow Tea in 'Crow Corner', a space curated by Lorna Hannan.  Annie read well over 70 cups of tea during Refuge (we lost count).  After learning from Annie about her skills, hereditary intuition and fine hosting abilities, we asked Annie if she could do these readings based on present and future with participants.  These readings accompanied other discussions in Crow Corner around social cohesion and sustainable development in North Melbourne.  Tea was served with Fair Share Fare's Indigenous take on the iconic ANZAC biscuit.