5 Questions with Henry Hargreaves
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Fatema Zehra Bandali
Photographer Henry Hargreaves tastes the rainbow by creating edible multi-coloured versions of classic dishes in his series ‘Food of the Rainbow’. Whilst we interact with food several times a day, we rarely note it further than something to eat. Hargreaves is interested in using food to tell a story.
Some of his most well known projects include ‘Food Maps’ and the ‘Gingerbread and Candy Art Galleries’. Food Maps uses iconic regional foods to depict countries and continents.
These maps are a playful representation of their interpretation of food from around the world, painstakingly created with real food. His most famous series, ‘No Seconds’, focuses on detailed recreations of the last meals of Death Row inmates. Other projects have included ‘Deep Fried Gadgets’. After discovering an online video of an unsuccessful attempt by Japanese youths to deep fry a PlayStation Portable, Hargreaves decided to expand on the idea. Drawing similarities between tech culture and fast food based on the idea that both are “quickly devoured and then discarded”, Hargreaves’ deep-fried foam lookalikes of real-life popular gadgets to exemplify this concept further. Hargreaves works to make you look at food in different contexts, drawing on the ordinary to further understand our often-overlooked multi-faceted relationship with food.
How did you start working with food in this way and why?
I always worked in the food industry before being able to be a full time photographer. I was fascinated about people’s requests and what they ordered said about their character and personality. I try to bring this idea into my work by showing the connections visually.
What inspires your work?
I like to show food in different ways than we expect to see it served. I like to play with it and challenge people’s expectations and perceptions. The process starts off with an idea, often unusual, and then I just try it and see what the results are. We have a lot of ideas but until you execute the idea you don’t know if it was a good one. Most pieces have to be made and photographed within the day or the food starts to brown and look unattractive.
What do you hope to evoke with your work?
The goal is a smile on someone’s face or when something new is learnt! I follow my own instincts; in many ways I am the audience. I create work I would like to see. If I stay true to myself I feel there are other people who have similar tastes and humour and they will enjoy seeing it as well.
Is it a love of food or a love of art?
Both, I love the ritual of food and when I can subvert it in an arty way, that’s what the point of difference is for me. Food is the primary inspiration and peoples relationship to it. What we eat and order says so much about who we are and this is what I want to show. Doing it in an arty way is what makes it aesthetically pleasing and memorable.
What is your favourite creation and why?
The Gingerbread Galleries are the ones I›m most proud of; because they were the most complicated work, I also didn’t know if we would be able to pull it off and the final results exceeded my expectations!