“My artistic relationship with food started at university, where I was introduced to the elaborate banquets of the past and the curious paraphernalia of dining. Up until then my studies had focused on the origins of museums, specifically cabinets of curiosity, so bringing these two influences together provided a “eureka!” moment where the sensory elements of food and the cerebral nature of the museum could be brought together to create something new.
So in 2011 I started Animal Vegetable Mineral (AVM) Curiosities as a way to explore and share my fascination with food, art and history. Projects range from museum-style exhibitions and sculptural installations to interactive lectures and limited-edition confectionary. The company specialises in private views and cross-disciplinary collaboration: taking an artwork, location or theme as a start point and responding to it with an edible installation. Creations so far include a pre-Raphaelite cocktail, edible teeth and a range of Biblical Chocolate (infused with gold, frankincense and myrrh).
“I usually have a vague idea of what I want to make but once I’m in the kitchen it’s all trial and error. Picasso said that ‘creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes and art is knowing which ones to keep.’ I think that’s a pretty good mantra.
A lot of my inspiration comes from history so I’m quite obsessive when it comes to research. I spend months reading up on a subject until I begin to develop it into an event or an edible. I often have more than one project on the go, as my interest in each theme will evolve as I go along. I wasn’t necessarily intending to be macabre, but I think the nostalgic elements of sweets are an excellent juxtaposition to more epic undertones. Religion, magic the occult are all fascinating sources of inspiration.
At the moment I’m researching Shakespearian confectionery and cooking with mastic gum so my inspiration can be fairly eclectic!
I like pairing familiar and unusual flavours, so I generally always use sugar or chocolate as a base and add to it with something more experimental. At the moment I’m enjoying using frankincense in my work, it has a lovely fragrant, spiced flavour and a rich ceremonial history.
“My next event is at the Royal Academy of Art on 21 February where, inspired by their Sensing Spaces exhibition, I will be presenting Architextures – an edible exploration of the textures of our urban experience (including edible sandcastles, chocolate marble and freshly baked bread essence). As well as Architextures, I am also I’m working on an ongoing project called, ‘The History of the World in 100 Sweets.’ This worldwide chronicle of confectionery starts in Ancient Rome, covering over 2000 years of history, ending up in 3D dessert printing and beyond. It will be launching shortly so the details are all top secret for now, but you can join my mailing list to be the first in the know…
In the future I’d love to do more large-scale installations, more art exhibitions and in five years I’d love to be nominated for the Turner Prize, spread the word!
The Story of Food as Art
“It is a very long story but to start somewhere near the beginning… the foundations of the dessert as we know it were laid in the medieval ‘void’, where fruit, jelly and other sweetmeats were often eaten standing up and away from the dining hall, allowing the room to be cleared for after dinner activities. This ‘ceremony of the void’ as it was known, gave dessert a detached quality, which set it apart from other modes of feasting and made dessert the very first form of installation art. What followed was the banqueting age and several hundred years of edible expression.
Tasha FOUR Food
“I think if I could visit anywhere in the world for their food, Japan would be high on the list; their ingredients, use of sugar and range of confectionery is a whole other world to explore. But in terms of staying at home, my mum’s roast will always be my favourite meal, sentimental and scrumptious in equal measure…”
Tasha Marks | AVM Curiosities
Vanitas case ©Chelsea Bloxsome
Sweet tooth ©Paul Singer
Blood of Christ cameo ©Paul Singer
Chocolate Fudge Ziggurat©Paul Singer
Biblical Chocolate ©Paul Singer
Studio Shot ©Teddy Fitzhugh
Toxic Tonic Sweets©Paul Singer
Sherbert ©Paul Singer
Studio Shot ©Teddy Fitzhugh