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Humble food meets high art

'Art + Food: Beyond the Still Life' in Sydney, Australia, makes connections between consumerism, food production, and cultural identity. 

By Feasting On Art / October 13, 2012

'Lifescape' by Christine Turner is comprised of biscuit (cookie) tins that evoke memories of time and place, such as a mother's or grandmother's kitchen.

Courtesy the Artist and Brenda May Gallery, Sydney/Feasting On Art

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The curated group exhibition "Art + Food: Beyond the Still Life" at Brenda May Gallery in Sydney, Australia, considers the representation of food within the visual arts and beyond the standard still life tableaux. The consumption of food is a universally shared experience, enabling people viewing the exhibition to connect with the issues surrounding consumerism, food production and cultural identity.

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Feasting On Art

 

Megan Fizell is a Sydney-based art historian and freelance writer concerned with the representation of food in the visual arts. She is the voice of the food & art blog, Feasting on Art, an innovative translation of painting to plate - recipes inspired by art.

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Some of the highlights include a large installation of biscuit tins amassed by the artist Christine Turner over a 15-year period as well as an installation by Sue Saxon and Jane Becker of hundreds of fragile eggshells on strands of lights. The show also includes a number of photographs featuring melting ice sculptures by Janet Tavener, the colourful remnants of meals by Vin Ryan and both a colourful and melting ice block by Will Nolan.

A sculpture composed of Murray River salt by Ken and Julia Yonetani will be offset by the artistic rendering of salt diffraction by Al Munro. The only traditional still life painting in the exhibition is by Michael Edwards who paints cement fruit which makes for a perfect pairing with the actual cast cement hamburgers by Will Coles.

The salt sculptures of Ken and Julia Yonetani consider the way food production affects the environment of the Murray River basin in southeast Australia, the origin of the salt used to construct the work. Likewise, Maz Dixon’s paintings and collages feature "The Big Things in Australia" highlighting the influence of the food industry on tourism by depicting some of the giant "sculptures" which litter the Australian landscape.

The beauty of some of the more traditional mediums of photography and sculpture is offset by works that leave the viewer feeling somewhat more uncomfortable. Claire Anna Watson’s film "Sortie" begins with a pair of tweezers plucking pips one at a time from a ripe strawberry. The film progresses to a dissection of the fruit that echoes the look and feel of a gory surgical scene. Sarah Field’s quaint tea set includes human hair and fur which recalls the surrealist Méret Oppenheim sculpture of a fur-covered tea set, "Object (Le Déjeuner en fourrure)" made in 1936.

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