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General News > Last Chance To See! Feast Your Eyes: The Fashion Of Food In Art
Looking for something different to do during the festive break? Then why not seize this final opportunity to catch the Feast Your Eyes exhibition at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle?
This fascinating show, which has driven a 34% rise in visitor figures to the Museum during the past two months, ends its successful run on Sunday 6th January.
Exploring fashions in food and drink throughout Europe, Feast Your Eyes is a celebration of the representation of food in art over the past five centuries.
Ranging from Arcimboldo’s fantasy paintings of the 16th Century to still life photographs by Irving Penn in the 20th Century, the exhibition explores themes including Still Life, Faith , From Market to Table, Fashionable Beverages, and Feast. It 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 interpretation of 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 are 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.
The exhibition draws 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 are 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 acclaimed food historian Ivan Day – accompanies the exhibition.
Ivan, who appears regularly on television, most recently in BBC2’s Royal Upstairs Downstairs and BBC4’s Calf’s Head & Coffee: The Golden Age of English Food, will give an animated and energetic lecture and food demonstration at the Museum on Friday 4th January at 2.15pm. The talk, which costs £6.00, must be booked by calling 01833 690606.