Leeds Indie Food has been a blast, but there were few events I was looking forward to as much as the Great Edible Art Show at The Gallery at Munro House. As soon as I saw the event listing I knew I had to be there – famous works of contemporary art recreated in cake, biscuit and icing by the Tattooed Bakers for our viewing pleasure and then offered up for our eating pleasure; what could be better? I don’t pretend to be any kind of art expert, but in a world where even touching artwork is generally frowned upon if not forbidden, this was clearly something special.
I got off to a bad start when the first eating event, Feed Me Art, sold out ridiculously fast and I missed out on a ticket – a regular occurrence in my life due to a dangerous mix of an unwillingness to commit and just general forgetfulness. You can’t even imagine my relief when I found out the organisers had decided to respond to the event’s obvious popularity by expanding the evening into two separate sessions, allowing twice the people to come and stuff their face with cakey goodness. I immediately bought a ticket to the later session, The Second Slice, and started mentally saving room in my belly…
Aware that the artworks would be half-eaten by the time I arrived, I ran down to The Gallery on my lunch hour to check out the pieces in all their untouched glory. The line-up was impressive, featuring some of the most well-known pieces from the world of contemporary art. Damien Hirst’s ‘Away From The Flock’ was the most attention-grabbing piece in the room, a real sheep corpse preserved in formaldehyde that had been recreated as a rainbow sponge cake covered in white icing.
Sharing the room were Sarah Lucas’ ‘Nud Cycladic 14’ as a vegan lemon sponge cake and Tracey Ermin’s applique blanket ‘No Chance’ reimagined as a huge slab of shortcake with the piece’s patchwork of colours and quotes copied in colourful icing. Grayson Perry’s ‘Mr S*** Sex’ was my personal highlight, an intricately decorated vase made from chocolate and prune fruitcake and covered in printed rice paper. This was my favourite piece just for the detail of the vase; I’d already seen the original and the cake version matched up almost perfectly.
I headed back to work wondering if the taste of the cakes would match up to the impressive appearances, and I was not disappointed. On arriving at the Gallery in the evening I accepted my free glass of punch and headed straight for ‘Away From The Flock’, which looked even better now that it had been sliced open to reveal the brightly coloured sponge cake on the inside. The cake was served with a side of raspberry jelly, and I felt like I was revisiting my childhood as I tucked in, feeling the E numbers coursing through me even as I swallowed.
The cake was delicious but super sweet, and even after just one slice I was already aware I’d probably only be able to handle one more. I had to choose carefully. After some back and forth I went for ‘Nud Cycladic 14’, a lemon sponge cake with lemon buttercream. I was more than happy with my choice, although I had to fight the impulse to get some chocolate fruitcake to take away!
The Edible Art Show was originally conceived as a way to promote the real British Art Show being held in Leeds later this year, but I believe the success of Feed Me Art has gone beyond that. I think events like this are invaluable in drawing new enthusiasts to the art world; an art novice myself, I was nonetheless attracted to this event by the novelty value of it and as a result gained tons of new knowledge about a subject that I was previously hazy on at best. It is fun, sociable events like this that make a sometimes intimidating subject accessible, and ensure that our art galleries and museums will be full for generations to come.