When did you last taste your own personalized bioregional snack, dusted in anchovy powder? When was the last time you saw chip board made out of potato peelings? Or fine cheese made from Heston Blumenthal’s skin? The adventurous Year 11 artists experienced these wonders and much more, when they spent the day at the Victoria and Albert Museum as part of their Art GCSE course. In addition to creating a wealth of closely observed and accomplished drawings from the permanent collection of V and A treasures, the 48 students had the opportunity to visit ‘Food: Bigger than the Plate’ exhibition.
This multi-sensory show takes a creative look at the future of food production, through the lens of artists, designers, chefs, scientists and farmers. Starting with the formidable challenge of how we recycle and reduce the waste we all produce, scientists and designers have developed ingenious ways of transforming unwanted materials, such as fabrics made from waste animal bones, coffee cups made from discarded coffee granules, and ceramics made from cow manure.
The students were asked to question all aspects of the food we eat, and that we take for granted. For example, the artist Ester Hernandez highlights the harsh working conditions of immigrant workers in California by creating subversive screenprints of ‘Sun Mad’ and ‘Sun Raid’ raisin packaging. Further on, the artists ‘Honey and Bunny’ take a more playful approach to food, staging the rituals of afternoon tea and supermarket shopping as absurd performances.
In Art and Design GCSE, the students develop their own creative ideas from the starting point of how objects can be metaphors- for values, emotions, and ideas. Exhibitions such as ‘Food’, and the Victoria and Albert Museum collection expose the students to a rich wealth of possibilities of what can be imagined and created.