As well as developing the practical skills needed to explore sugar as a sculptural material another aim was to develop a deeper understanding of confection in association with the female body sensory pleasures and embodiment.
I approached curator and writer Anneka French to do a studio visit. The visit sparked some really interesting and exciting developments. Where we have discussed the affects of sugar on the body, the viscosity of sugar and custard, amongst many other really interesting connections.
What has been the most interesting is the connection we are making in relation to the city we are based in. As we both live in Birmingham, the discussions have led us to talk about Bournville as a site for research. Bournville is the home to Cadbury’s world
(Image found in Birmingham and Art gallery)
The majority of the workers were women or ‘Cadbury’s Angels’ as they were called. Female staff worked in the factory until they were married, as George Cadbury didn’t want them to be away from their homes and children.
I have also been reading ‘The Art of Confectionery’ where I found it particularly interesting that Day states how the production of confectionery was a socially acceptable activity for high-ranking ladies since the Tudor period. Being able to arrange a banquet of dessert in a fashionable style was one of the necessary skills of a ‘compleat woman’
Sugar and sex, sweetness and femininity –
I have started to look at how advertising reinforces that sugar work is women’s work as well as the eating of them is.
Reading Ruby Tandoh’s essay on the ‘primal pleasure and brutal history of sugar’ As also offered me more to think about
“No sugared association is stronger than that between sweetness and femininity. Girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Women are honey, sweetheart, cupcake, candy girl, honeybunch — or they’re tarts. In the Bible, “The lips of an adulterous woman drip honey” (Proverbs 5:3). Meanwhile, black women have been “caramel,” “brown sugar,” “mocha latte,” “chocolate,” and “molasses” — both desired and diminished. Making sweet foods is considered women’s work — and eating them is, too. Girls receive an Easy-Bake Oven; cake mixes are marketed exclusively to women; home bakers are overwhelmingly female. Candy and chocolate are so heavily feminized that a Yorkie bar in the UK — normal chocolate, massive chunks — until recently stood out by marketing itself as “not for girls.” Ruby Tandoh
I am super excited for the new directions in my work that this bursary has opened up for me and look forward to sharing how this project progresses in 2019.
I finally got to do my short course in sugar work. A whole day of pure sweet indulgence!
I spent the day at Spun Candy in London, working one on one with a specialist sugar crafter, who taught me the art of working with sugar at different temperatures.
In Ivan Day’s essay ‘The art of confectionery’ he describes how the skills of confectioners were much admired and considered to be highly regarded. I definitely felt very immersed and captivated by the course. One of my favourite techniques was stretching the sugar:
‘Stretching Sweetness’ https://vimeo.com/308764275
As well as experiencing how malleable it is whilst warm. https://www.instagram.com/p/Bqm2z2yF0FX/
It really is a luscious and amazing material to play with.
I learnt how to mould, cast, shape, flavour and colour the sugar:
I came away with a bounty of confectionery goods!
I feel more confident to develop my new skills and knowledge learnt. I am looking forward to experimenting further and plan to create sugar based work, which will then be used within a larger new body of work.
Through a mixture of workshops and performances, I intend to extend on this project by inviting a mixture of people to test and try out the work, in my studio.
We will screen the film to a new audience in London. Where I will also be building on the themes explored in the film through a edible interaction.
The past two weeks have been very productive and I have continued to use Marshmallow, as an ‘edible flesh.’
I have been thinking a lot about women, our bodies and food recently. The studio visit from film-maker Tereza Stehlikova and performer Tereza Kamenicka allowed us to explore women’s sweet pleasures, indulgence of the senses and female embodiment.
I layed out a spread of hybrid objects and sweet treats allowing them the complete freedom to respond to the work, and edible items on offer.
Being mindful of flavours and textures, I prepared sweet, lavender nipple meringues, crystallised rose petals, chocolate casts of my tongue that had a rose fondant centre, a plate made from chocolate, which became limp and started to melt away from the heat and a rose flavoured marshmallow, which is traditionally what the french flavoured their marshmallow.
(Sweet, lavender meringue nipples and crystallised rose petals)
Below are stills from the footage taken:
Tereza’s performance was very captivating to watch. She tapped into raw, carnal forces whilst interacting with both objects and food. I plan to use the film and other explorative sessions to feed into the development of new work. It is really interesting to relinquish all control and to allow the work to be interpreted. It offers me a another perspective.
This sticky membrane becomes ingested and forms part of her body, whilst she takes the remnants and rubs it’s pink ligaments into her skin as a way of completely incorporating ‘the other’
Tasha gave us a fabulous informative talk of sugar as artistic medium, followed by a hands on activity using the moulds she created for installation ‘Alabaster Ruins’ @vamuseum last year.
Here are some small relief sugar sculptures that I produced:
Tasha has provided me with the skills to use sugar as a sculptor’s material as these sweet pieces are inedible and would probably break teeth if consumed! I am looking forward to making my own moulds and experimenting further.
However it was during her demonstration on how to make a 17th century sugar paste, that I observed how the clouds of sweet, sweet powdered sugar, hit me in the back of my mouth and lingered.
The scent and more importantly the taste of the sugar permeating the air, makes me more aware of how confection is a performative and immersive experience. So I am about to book my next course…….more sweet morsels to come!
“In a sense then, sweetness remains outside, inappropriable, a restance. Sweetness is nothing but reminders, remainders, residues, remnants, restes, ruins, Derrida’s remains, leftovers.” (2003 Parallax Journal; Bon Appetit)
I have begun my bursary research by reflecting on a previous piece of work titled ‘Consuming surfaces’ A 5ft x 2ft Marshmallow slab. The marshmallow weighed 1stone and had 126 gelatine leaves, 14lbs of sugar and 28 egg whites.
It was cut or rather bitten into by my ‘mouth tools’ that leave traces of parts of my body into the food and onto the surface. As we cut into the table the implements became an extension of my mouth, so that chewing, which is something that happening inside the mouth’s cavity becomes externalised and public.
Mouthfuls of pink, fluffy and sweet marshmallow was then served and fed to a live audience.
Performers/servers; @amalgamist@racheldarbourne @drewmarkou and myself wore velvet and latex aprons. Designed and made by myself in consultation with @racheldarbourne and with leather support from @deborettecreative from @b18leather
The performance piece was filmed from underneath the table and the result is a new video art work; titled Consuming Surfaces.
I am looking forward to developing this performance further as well as continuing to use Marshmallow, as it’s gelatinous, gooey lusciousness is rather fleshy and bodily.
In Darra goldstein’s book; ‘The oxford companion to Sugar and Sweets’ she explains how marshmallow root was used to soothe inflammation in mucous membranes and so marshmallow was traditionally used medicinally. It is also known as the supreme symbol of temptation! Psychologist Walter Mischel’s ‘marshmallow test’ tempted children with marshmallows to test their self-control.
Purchasing ‘The oxford companion to Sugar and sweets’ has allowed me to research sugar as a material further, as well being able to learn about the history and cultural references of individual confections:
“Sweet words become loving words”
I have also been listening to the Radio 4’s programme: Sweetness and desire: A short history of desire Which is making me more aware of how confection effects the body. I have particularly interested in the notion that our brains, sometimes cannot tell the difference between sweetness and love……..
I am looking forward to having a studio visit this week from film-maker Tereza Stehlikova Where I will be inviting her and performer Tereza Kamenicka to play with my objects and some sugar in the studio. I have prepared some sweet treats for us
and hope that it will feed into a series of short films that we are collaborating on: https://cinestheticfeasts.wordpress.com/2018/02/03/food-and-embodiment-day-2/
I will also be doing a sugar sculpture workshop This Friday, which is being led by ‘the queen of sugar sculpting’ Tasha Marks http://www.avmcuriosities.com I will show results of this in my next blog post.
“Taste alone compels the eating, not hunger for the word. It is as though the soul can taste sweetness beyond the body: the trope of sweetness is that interiorization discussed earlier, except that the sweetness is tasted in the mouth, an orifice of the body.” (2003 Parallax Journal; Bon Appetit)