I wear a few different hats – gallery assistant by day, food writer by night – which fuel my passions for food and art. I’m always drawn to the two things especially when put together and this inevitably is what led to the idea of gathering a collection of artworks based on the broad theme of food for At The Table.
Food has been the artist’s subject of choice since the beginning of art history, from cave paintings of the hunt to Baroque still life paintings of tabletops heavy with fruit, vegetables, meat and fish to the tomato soup cans of pop art icon, Andy Warhol. I think food speaks to us not the least because it is a basic necessity and a part of our everyday lives – we simply need it. It not only nourishes us and literally keeps us alive but it also satisfies us, bring us together with friends and family, creates and nurtures culture and traditions.
Fulli Andrinopoulos Fulli Andrinopoulos Not titled 1992 pastel on paper 25.5 x 33cm
Initially, I started noticing the theme of food cropping up here and there in the artworks of the gallery stockroom, but when looking deeper, a pandora’s box was opened. I found works depicting not only food (fruit, vegetables, bread, a leg of ham), but also drinks (beer, wine, even ginger beer, and in particular tea). The morning or afternoon ritual of tea time is represented in so many shapes and forms (ceramic, pastel, watercolour, textiles turned into cups and teapots) that it reminded me how much this traditional break, perhaps with something sweet, is a favourite part of our culture. Looking further, I found other food-related imagery from farm animals, hens laying eggs, fast food and references to modern culture (hamburger, pizza, cafes, food transport) and even references to literature and films (the mad hatter’s tea party from Alice in Wonderland to that famous cookbook writer who brought French cuisine to America, Julia Childs). I found ceramic cutlery and crockery and – inspiring the title of the show – the simple image of a woman sitting at a table.
What is it about food that makes us want to draw or paint or even talk about it?
Boris Cipusev Pizza Time 2009 texta 21 x 30cm
Food recalls memories, rituals and habits and is a way of sharing and connecting with others. In its various forms food is very closely linked with the family and the home, the place where many probably have the first memories of food, being fed, sitting around the table or perhaps watching someone cook. In art, food is a versatile subject, where it can be used to tell a story, represent religious symbols or simply convey the beauty of nature’s shapes and colours. From a chicken’s egg to a coffee cup to a piece of fruit, food is symbolic and can be intimate, beautiful, quirky, abstract, practical and many things in between.
In the end, the show’s collection was narrowed down to over 100 artworks spanning 20 years of work of over 30 different artists depicting this universal (and tempting if you happen to visit while hungry) subject.
Emiko Davies, 2013
16 Mar – 16 Apr 2013
Opening: 16 Mar 2013, from 3-5pm
Venue: Arts Project Australia Gallery
Unless otherwise specified, all artworks are available for sale from 3pm Saturday 16 March 2013.
Arts Project members can pre-purchase artworks prior to the opening, as part of our Membership Benefits program.
Please visit our At the Table exhibition page, download a media release or contact our gallery on 03 9482 4484 for
sales and all other enquiries.
Adrian Lazzaro Not titled 2009 pencil and ink on paper 25 x 35cm
Catherine Staughton Ginger Beer 2008 ink, texta and gouache on paper 69.8 x 51.2cm
Lisa Reid Fish and chips lunch pack 2010 ceramic 25 x 19.5 x 5.5cm Private Collection
Terry Williams Fridge 2012 calico, vinyl, wool, cardboard, material, stuffing 115 x 54 x 71cm