Archives for category: Art

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Last weekend I was incredibly moved to be in the presence of seeds descended from those which Vavilov and his colleagues saved under wartime duress (i.e. a Stalinist prison, and starvation).  These were exhibited as part of the Artes Mundi exhibition at National Museum Cardiff in which the Futurefarmers collective of artists installed visuals to their “Seed Journey” exploration of the history and future of seeds as part of our common heritage. Amy Franceschini explains some of the project in this video below:

A few days later I found myself working at an event where Anne Parry of Felin Galon Watermill was speaking on behalf of her visionary efforts to network farmers, millers, brewers and bakers around “Welsh Grain.” We talked a bit about the Cardiff exhibition, and she shared that some Welsh grown wheat had gone off on the sea-faring adventures of FutureFarmers.

So exciting! I went home and wrote to Anne, asking if she could write a paragraph for this blog, sharing the story.  And she responded:

“As part of their Seed Journey the Flatbread Society were meeting with Andy Forbes of the Brockwell Bake in London. The Welsh Grain Forum has been collaborating with Andy, who is wonderfully knowledgeable and committed, to reintroduce the wheat Hen Gymro back to Wales….so since The Seed Journey group were travelling to Cardiff it seemed appropriate that we celebrate this by them symbolically bringing us a sheaf of Hen Gymro from Andy when they came up to Cardiff. (Pics from the Brockwell Bake gallery here). About half a dozen WGF members were able to be there and it turned out to be a simple, inspiring and encouraging event where we received the wheat, gave them samples of Hen Gymro grown once more in Wales, and other Welsh grown heritage cereals, to take on their journey and then shared bread and cakes baked with our locally grown and milled flour. There’s something about the it by Artes Mundi here , and stuff on our Welsh Grain Workshop page and on Rupert Dunn’s Torth y Tir page.”

Really wanted to share this wonderful story which gives Hen Gymro an epic adventure, its itself part of the whole global Story of seeds, grain, people, history.


And now, a moment with Johnny Cash, and an affecting photomontage:

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I’ve just come across the fascinating art practice of Amanda Couch who works in animal innards, pastry, divination and performance. At the recent Oxford Symposium on Food and Cooking she enacted “a divination ritual based on ancient Mesopotamian and Greek extispicy methods” enquiring “Will the UK would invoke article 50?” The answer was no!
I am so looking forward to learning more about her work, thus sharing one post here from her blog as a link for all of us to much more.

Amanda Couch

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This year I have been making pastry interpretations of ancient divination models using shortbread biscuit dough, and rough, puff and hot water crust pastry, for the lids of pies with various fillings.

Whilst visiting the Vorderasiatische Museum in Berlin in February, I came across a clay tablet from Babylon from the 12th-11th century BC, with multiple representations of extispicy models. In order to understand these images, I have  been incising the forms onto the lids of the small pies. The original tablet contains 14 diagrams, some whole, some fragmentary,  which represent the various configurations of the entrails of sacrificial sheep, and what they might mean to diviners.[1]

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Examples of these models were also incised into the lids of the Andouilette pies, which were served as part of the ‘Intestines’ course of my recent Reflection on Digestion performance dinner at LIBRARY London. In the chapter, I was connecting the intestines to…

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Stephanie Sarley is a contemporary American artist who makes these brave Fruit Art Videos.  I think they are challenging and fun to watch, as well as having the effect of making people laugh– should you want or need that pleasure.

 

https://soundcloud.com/m-a-djeribi/ashraf-fayadh-a-melancholy-made-of-dough

 

The poet Ashram Fayadh is scheduled to be executed in Saudia Arabia. There is a call to read his poetry aloud all through today. There’s an appeal next week. Let’s keep hopeful: lots of publicity for his case, and maybe this Amnesty petition can help https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/free-ashraf-fayadh-saudi-arabia-palestinian-poetry-apostasy-execution

I chose this poem for its unusual and disturbing use of bread-baking imagery.

Arabic Literature (in English)

This poem, from Instructions Within (2008), was translated by Tariq al Haydar:

A Melancholy Made of Dough

Parts of you pile one on top of another—a mixture of your blood,
sweat, remains, and discharge from your eyes.
And discharge from your eyes.
The knot of your tongue at the midway point of the ocean,
and when the sphere of the sun swims
in a preconceived orbit—
Complications!

What the sidewalk never mentioned
is that you used to step on it
and present your shoes on a plate of concrete,
your feet on a plate of shoes,
your legs on a plate of your misfortune.
You tune the strings of your head to affect your foolish delight,
you bury a skull—you’d rather not bear.
You heap yourself on a slate that claims whiteness due to a fistful of flour—
and you ferment.
You swell and puff your sadness like a hot loaf

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Much thanks and appreciation to whoever created this and put it online.

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OK, it’s true, I’m among those cookbook lovers who pour through end-of-year lists proclaiming which ones are best and most warrant giving as gifts to loved ones. They all repeat each other, those lists! And while I sometimes agree (yes, Mamushka is wonderful), there are books that somehow got off the radar and really deserve attention at this point in the marketing cycle (which, let’s be real, is what these lists are about).  So with 9-days-to-go, and despite my bah-humbug, anti-materialist spirit, I’m hopping on the bandwagon.

The Groundnut Cookbook is a book to judge by its cover, based on its lush, colourful front and back, illustrated by one of its authors, Duval Timothy.  (I’ve fantasized actually about curtains, wallpaper and poster prints in this vibrant, sumptuous pattern, that’s how beautiful I find it.)

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This song makes me laugh every time! You can follow him on Facebook.  And his blog here.

This one’s pretty good too.  Really chuckled about Pink Lady® apples.

A fascinating, very informative video about Andrew Whitley’s compelling endeavours “to rebuild nutritional quality and local self-sufficiency of the Scottish bread supply.” I love his baking book Bread Matters, and now hearing him talk about “diversity in adversity” and agricultural resilience.

Geoff Tansey blog

Andrew Whitley is a campaigning organic baker known for starting the Village Bakery in Melmerby in the 1970s and latterly as co-founder of the Real Bread Campaign. His book Bread Matters is credited with ‘changing the way we think about bread’ by Sheila Dillon of the BBC Food Programme and his business of the same name provides artisan bakery training. Now he’s followed his interest in bread back to its roots by farming in the Scottish borders – using agroforestry approaches, inspired by the work of Prof Martin Wolfe at Wakelyns. He is also experimenting with some 70 varieties of wheat, spelt, emmer, rye, oats and barley, including varieties that used to be grown in Scotland, some obtained from the Vavilov Institute in Russia – as he explains in the video tour of his farm.

With his wife and co-director Veronica Burke he is pioneering a new project…

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These films by Artist-Winemaker/ Winemaker-Artist Jacob Whittaker are transfixing.  Wish I could go to this Flora Social gallery event in Carmarthen on Saturday.  Jade Mellor of Wild Pickings will also be there, amazing West Wales teacher of foraged botanical and culinary delights.

Very sad to hear that the death of Chantal Akerman is reported as suicide.

I’m posting some of the cooking scenes in Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles a film rhythmically punctuated by cooking as an extraordinary ordinary ritual. Maybe it’s the great cooking film actually, in how much is revealed of character through the enactment of labour, chore and responsibility and the social/personal weight of culture.

Read about Chantal Ackerman films here.  I hope (probably not possible) to see this London exhibition of her art and video work 30 October – 6 December, 2015.

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