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FATEMA ZEHRA BANDALI

As kids, most of us were told not to play with our food. Fatema Zehra introduces the ‘Art of Food’ and talks to food artists Henry Hargreaves and Bompas & Parr, who have taken playing with food to new heights.

Food is such an integral part of our lives. From socialising with friends to just a daily necessity, much of the day revolves around a good plate. Chefs will often tell you that you take your first bite with your eyes. As with most things, the aesthetics of a dish adds to the taste experience.

Whether you love it or hate it, we all have some sort of relationship with food and to some degree this can be said of art. For what is art? Merely a painting hanging on a gallery wall or is it everything around us that resonates with us? Art can affect us on a superficial aesthetic level that brings enjoyment, and often further on a deeper level that evokes thought. For some, art can feel distant and pretentious, so what better way to connect and engage with the masses than to tap into this overwhelming consensus for the love (or hate) of food?

The art of food has existed for some time. Take for example, Michelin star restaurants and their fancy plates of elaborate and memorable food. And more recently, the wondrous creations of chef Heston Blumenthal and his entirely wacky yet fantastically innovative food displays that have adorned our television screens. The food art market is an exciting place, with creative and unique inventions being revealed quicker than you can finish your next meal!

Playing with our sensorial norms and adding to these dimensions of taste and smell can provide infinite possibilities and dynamics. Furthermore, reframing the context in which we perceive and interact with everyday food can help draw new and often necessary narratives about the food we eat. Some of these marvellous creations stand alone to provide entertainment and wonder, through bright colours, misty smoke effects, or even the realisation that comes with confused intrigue when tasting food that isn’t what it appears to be. On another level, adopting the ordinary medium of food to highlight and skew our understanding of it and how we interact with food on a day- to-day basis can provide a more profound story. Whatever the purpose of food art, the future looks likely to hold even more impressively playful and phenomenal food art creations.