Food in Books and the Australian Library of Art

When it comes to food, the Australian Library of Art holds a number of artists’ books which may not be edible but are on the theme of food, books which are works of art in themselves, inspired by an experience or a memory relating to food.

As Queensland artist Normana Wight writes about her book Jam Doughnuts – Fragments of Foreign Food, having taken many photos of food in Britain and France, she wanted to make a recipe book of foods as a work of art, having seen “a wonderful artists’ recipe book at the Victoria and Albert Museum.”

A good companion to Normana’s book would be Rita Erlich and Mary Newsome’s Art of the Cake : Paris pâtisseries. This is an elaborate affair, comprising a box in which sits a luscious looking French “cake”, accompanied by a pair of gloves.

The food theme comes up again in Towards Comfort, where Normana uses digital printing to create images of the making of a cup of tea. Just Desserts a phrase which suggests much, from lustful food, right through to come-uppance is another of Normana’s offerings, this time mentoring third year printmaking students and staff of the University of Southern Queensland.

Licorice Allsorts by Helen Sanderson

The work of Brisbane artist Helen Sanderson graces Artists Books Collection on the slq website. Licorice Allsorts consists of a cellophane bag of paper licorice allsorts which look very real indeed. Helen too, has been inspired by food. As Artist-in-Residence with Edwards Dunlops Paper, she had the idea of making a series of paper sandwiches, contained in heat sealed wrapping.

Ham and Lettuce Sandwich by Helen Sanderson

She created Ham & Lettuce Sandwich and Sandwich IV, a unique item made of coloured sheets of paper in the form of a triangular sandwich.

From Brisbane textile artist, Kay Faulkner, we have Indulge, a rather lurid purple-textured fabric covered book, made of chocolate wrappers, where the artist requested friends, mostly Queenslanders, state their preferred indulgence on the wrappers. In another work, Indulgence, a catalogue of an exhibition of the artist’s weaving, the connection to chocolate is maintained, the exhibited works being described as shimmery silver foils of chocolate wrappers being woven with natural fibres. As Faulkner writes; “Chocolate is ambrosia, food of the gods to my mind.”

In her artist’s book, Eat, Jo Pursey set out to visually document “all the foods I’ve eaten in 2001” The ALA holds volume one of the work. It seems there is no end to what artists consider fodder to creating these beautiful artists’ books.

Irene Sourgnes

Librarian, The Australian Library of Art

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