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Press Releases > Feast Your Eyes: The Fashion of Food in Art
Exploring fashions in food and drink throughout Europe, the exhibition Feast Your Eyes is a celebration of the representation of food in art over the past five centuries.
Ranging from Arcimboldo’s fantasies of the 16th Century to still life photographs by Irving Penn in the 20th Century, the exhibition, which opens at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle on Saturday 6 October, explores themes including Still Life, Faith , From Market to Table, Fashionable Beverages, and Feast.
The exhibition looks at how food is used to convey a story, or as a message, as symbolism or decoration. It considers the changing fashions in food and how these influenced artists’ depictions of food in their work.
One of the earliest works in the show, lent by Southampton City Art Gallery, is a fantastical reference to Summer by the 16th Century artist, Guiseppe Arcimboldo; one of the artist’s famous fruit and vegetable head-shaped compositions for which he is best known. By contrast, the most recent works on display will be two photographs of still life by the American photographer, Irving Penn, on loan from the Tate.
In between is an eclectic mix of subjects and styles – from formal still life works revealing the abundance of food from orchard, field, farm and sea, to paintings which show the human relationship with food in all walks of life, from the nobleman dining in style to the humble widow surviving on a diet of broth.
Still Life will explore the differing approach artists have taken across the centuries to capture nature in all its forms.
Faith shows paintings where food takes on a symbolic presence.
From Market to Table will chart the progress of food from the fields to market and eventually to mealtime; the depiction of household interiors, animals and people giving a glimpse into the social conditions and customs of the time.
Fashionable Beverages will demonstrate how new fangled drinks such as tea, coffee and chocolate grew in popularity amongst 18th Century fashionable society, as new trade routes exposed western culture to new foods and customs. The coffee houses of London buzzed with gossip and discussion as these drinks gave rise to a new model of social interaction.
Finally Feast features works showing people enjoying the pleasures of eating, from a hearty picnic to an indulgent banquet.
The exhibition will draw on cookery books, accounts and letters from The Bowes Museum Archive and elsewhere to discover the dining habits and tastes of our ancestors, including those of the Museum’s Founders, John and Joséphine Bowes, whose Anglo-French style reflected the increasingly sophisticated palate of the upper classes in the 19th Century.
An interesting addition to the exhibition is the 3D re-creation of two paintings; a still life by Joséphine Bowes and an exquisite watercolour of a Victorian supper party to celebrate a royal visit, from a private collection. With the help of food historian Ivan Day, the table settings and the dishes themselves will be explained to bring these paintings to life.
A cookery book based on recipes from the Museum’s Café Bowes and featuring sumptuous images from the Museum’s collection – with details of paintings in the exhibition as well as historical notes and comments by Ivan Day – will accompany the exhibition.
There will also be a stimulating events programme including talks on various aspects of the history and social history of food, practical workshops and food and drink tasting events, designed to celebrate this most fascinating subject.
For press images or more information, please contact Sheila Dixon, Media and PR Officer 01833 694616 / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bowes Museum, Café Bowes and Shop are open daily from 10.00. A full programme of events and exhibitions is available by calling 01833 690606 or by viewing the website at www.thebowesmuseum.org.uk.
• The Bowes Museum was created over 100 years ago by an extraordinary couple, John and Joséphine Bowes. Together they built up the greatest private collection of fine and decorative arts in the North of England and constructed a magnificent building to house them in. The collection contains thousands of objects including furniture, paintings, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and many other items covering an extensive range of European styles and periods.
• The Bowes Museum receives a core funding grant from Durham County Council and as a member of the North East Regional Museums Hub receives support from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport through the Museums, Library and Archives Council Renaissance programme. Additional revenue funding specifically for the Museum’s acclaimed exhibition programme is provided by Northern Rock Foundation.
• The Bowes Museum has recently undergone major redevelopment. This work was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, One NorthEast through the County Durham Economic Partnership, English Heritage, Northern Rock Foundation, The Monument Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, The European Regional Development Fund, DCMS/Wolfson Museum and Galleries Improvement Fund, Designation Challenge Fund, The Shears Foundation, The Richard and Suzanna Tonks Family Fund at County Durham Foundation, Durham County Council, The Friends of The Bowes Museum, The Headley Trust, Sir James Knott Trust, Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Fenwick Ltd, Mercers Charitable Foundation, Welton Foundation. While we are endeavouring to keep as much of the collections on display as possible, visitors are advised to call ahead if wishing to see a specific item to check if it is on display.
• Normal admission to the museum: Adults £9.00, Concessions £8.00, Six Month Pass £12.00, Children Free (under 16s). Admission allows access to all exhibitions, permanent displays and some events. Admissions are donation inclusive and are eligible for Gift Aid. If you do not wish to make a charitable donation admission prices are: Adults £8.15, Concessions £7.25, Six Month Pass £10.00, Children (under 16) and carers free.
• The Bowes Museum is open daily from 10.00am.
• The Bowes Museum is a member of the Discover Durham partnership of attractions. Our commitment is to promote Durham as an exciting and vibrant group travel destination and to provide the travel trade with a professional and knowledgeable service: hotline number 0191 301 8531, www.discoverdurham.co.uk.