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Elizabeth Willing during installation of her work at Museum of Brisbane, 2017. Photo: David Kelly.

Food & Art: Elizabeth Willing

Elizabeth Willing is a Brisbane-based artist who uses food as her primary subject and material. For more than 10 years, Elizabeth has created artworks generated by the act of consumption, participatory installations, ephemeral edible sculptures, paintings and experimental dining events which engage audiences through smell, taste, sight and touch.

In February 2020 Museum of Brisbane welcomed Elizabeth Willing as the first Artist in Residence for the year. During her four-week residency working in The Studio, Elizabeth created a series of kipfler potato prints on linen and a site-specific collage installation using food images from vintage cookbooks. Elizabeth explains the potato printing process:

“Potato printing is a way for me to reference processes drawn from the studio and the kitchen. The form of the kipfler potato captures an ambiguity that allows it to float within an array of biological fields, while still being anchored as a foodstuff…

The Untitled series is named after flavours, like varieties of chips or puffed starchy snacks. The kipfler cross-section is printed as the gentlest of impressions, the colour only just clinging to the linen surface, like the dusty dehydrated flavourings on chips that stick to your fingers. The elusiveness of the print is for me a reference to the emptiness of these snacks, both physically and nutritionally depleted through industrial food processing.”

Museum of Brisbane holds three works by Elizabeth in the collection, created for the 2017 exhibition Tastes Like Sunshine which explored Brisbane’s rich food history and cultures.

Elizabeth reflects on how she approached the artworks for this exhibition:

“When discussing Tastes Like Sunshine, I felt the domestic theme arising again and again, and wanted to tell some version of the story of baking, how colonial Australian bakers (predominantly female) took recipes from homelands and applied them to the Australian environment and available produce that was being grown here. I like the thought of this sort of awkward adaptation that would have happened. I also understand that magazines and papers were quite important in that part of history, and often included recipes. What happened in those early years of colonisation has informed and shaped what we consider Australian baking culture, the adapted recipes are often unique and nostalgic…
These collages are a portrait of the past 200 years, of the fruits that were introduced and how they decorated our palate. They represent a plethora of cooking books written, designed for, or simply found in Australia for Australian cooks. The images represent what was eaten, and what was eaten was determined by the introduction of food plants from overseas, that were able to grow successfully in our soil.”
Elizabeth Willing (Mornington, VIC b. 1988), Strawberry Thief (after William Morris) 2017, digital wallpaper. Courtesy the artist.
The Artist in Residence program is supported by Tim Fairfax AC.

This project is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.


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