12 – 16 September 2023
Meet the Artist Event : Saturday 16 September, 3 – 6pm

A four part exhibition that uses food to explore themes such as hybrid identity, migration, and community resilience. 

Supported by Arts Council England

Who We Beans is a visual poetry exhibition that explores how West Africans in the diaspora use food to fuel communal affection. What food and relationships have in common is both are vital human needs. Theresa Lola uses food to explore themes such as hybrid identity, migration, and community resilience. The exhibition is made up of four sections: Acaraje Da Bhalu, Who We Beans, Full English Ewa, and Breaktime Chop.  

Theresa Lola is a British Nigerian poet based in London. She has held poetry residencies at Wellcome Collection, Bethlem Museum of the Mind, and led poetry sessions at galleries and museums in response to art. She has been commissioned by National Gallery, Selfridges, and Tate. In 2021 she completed a Masters in Creative Writing at University of Oxford. In 2022 she was a co-writer for fashion designer Osman Yousefzada’s London Fashion Week film. 

Her debut poetry collection ‘In Search of Equilibrium’ was long listed for the 2021 Michael Murphy Memorial Prize. Her work cycles between themes of heritage, belonging, and hope. Who We Beans marks her first exhibition. 

Acaraje Da Bhalu – The installation explores community resilience and connectedness. Acaraje, the fritter snack brought by West African slaves and sold by Afro Brazilian women has been recreated using bio-resin with poems moulded inside. She chose resin due to their viscous nature and ability to solidify their existence in any space. 

Who We Beans – This poeticdocumentary journals the journey of three West African restaurant owners in Southwark, a London borough with a large number of Africans. The film explores their passion for food, more vital than ever post Covid-19 pandemic which squeezed the hospitality industry.

Full English Ewa – Woven photo-text art that renders the joys and tensions of ‘woven’ identities and food fusions. The background photo has a full English breakfast with the baked beans replaced with ewa aganyin, a beans dish popular in Nigeria where Theresa Lola was born. 

Breaktime Chop – A board game created by Theresa, inspired by Ludo. The game invites visitors to explore the necessary windows, ‘short breaks’ where we playfully interact and snack with one another, a false but necessary escape from the meatier worries of food accessibility, if at all possible. 

Beans, specifically black eyed pea appears as a motif through the exhibition. Native to West Africa, black eyed peas is used in staple meals across West Africa, and in meals they have inspired in the diasporas. The crop represents resourcefulness and durability.