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Australian Library of Art

The Art of the Cake: Paris Pâtisseries

By Christene Drewe | 16 March 2018

The exhibition of artists’ books in the ALA Showcase was changed this week and now also includes a selection of pop-up books from SLQ collections. When our guest blogger Normana Wight spotted our selection of books for the display, she was drawn to the work of Mary Newsome, in part from the title, but also the food theme was to her liking, as Normana was completing her post ‘Edible architecture’. Mary’s artist’s book grew out of her 1997 research project in Paris where she documented pâtisseries in drawings, paintings and photographs. The splendid packaging of cakes was also noted. Mary wished to acknowledge and pay homage to the artistic creations of Parisian patisseries as an ‘art form’. The art of the cake: Paris pâtisseries is reviewed for the ALA blog by Normana.

The Art of the Cake: Paris pâtisseries

The Art of the Cake: Paris pâtisseries

The Book
The Art of the Cake: Paris Pâtisseries, 1999 by Mary Newsome and Rita Erlich (essay).
A large and complex artist’s book, about the phenomenon of the French cake (pâtisserie);
This book was based on an exhibition held at Gallery 101, Melbourne, in 1999. It is a signed limited edition of 50. The work received a commendation in the Shell Fremantle print award in 2000. Here are the comments from the commendations notes:
“The judges found Victorian artist Mary Newsome’s inkjet and screenprint book, The Art of the Cake to be as tempting as the delicacies it so elegantly describes. Like the termite encyclopaedia, it is witty and serious at the same time, and its outstanding construction made it an irresistible choice.” (1)
Several items are presented in a gleaming golden box suggesting the sort of packaging one would find in a Parisian pâtisserie.

Pop-up: "the fraisier royal"

Pop-up: "the fraisier royal"

There is the book, the fitted box that holds it, gloves and a clear plastic container. (Carry bag)
The book is a concertina format with 14 pages created to resemble an iced millefeulle cake.

It is printed in very robust colour, ink jet, on handsome rag paper. In a double page spread, there are black and white drawings to the left, and the colour illustrations on the right hand side.
All the illustrations are named in both French and English.

Napoleon, and his cake are featured. The cake is illustrated on the left side. The right hand side shows a particularly frazzled-looking emperor holding a tricolour containing the recipe for Napoléons.



The book is displayed in the ALA Showcase on level 4 of the State Library from Tuesday 13th March 2018 along with a selection of pop-up books.

Normana Wight

March 2018.

(1) 25th Annual Shell Fremantle print award, Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle W.A, 2000.


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