Food in the Frame

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Food is more than fuel for the body; it is part of people’s identity, culture and character. Although British cuisine has been enriched by a variety of cultures, and foreign dishes have been assimilated, I still believe its core resides in the local farm. Since medieval times the sustenance of many families depended on basic foods that could be cultivated in their land and fermented beverages. That is why there are foodstuffs strongly associated to a certain region or country, becoming an identity representation of its inhabitants.

Because of its adaptability in terms of weather and soil, barley has been important in the diet of much people of the British Isles for centuries. Inspired by Robert Burns’ poetry and folklore, my intention with this series of paintings was to capture barley as part of the British landscape, cuisine and social life: it is the base ingredient of ale and whiskey, and the preparation of bread, soups and  gruel with this grain was common years ago.

In the 18th century, Robert Burns was capable to evoke the anxieties, grieves, joys, traditions and manners of Scottish people, from different social stratums (especially that of the peasantry), in many of his poems and ballads about food. In “John Barleycorn. A Ballad”, “Scotch Drink”, “Bannocks O’ Barley” and “O gude ale comes &c.” he creatively pays tribute to barley as a symbol of national identity and as part of Scottish everyday life. Also, a poem like “The Cotter’s Saturday Night” sacralises, in a way, the peasant’s work and family, showing with dignity their poor meal and style of life… A dose of joy and nostalgia contained in a grain!

This project was possible thanks to the support of First Food Art Residency:

http://www.firstfoodresidency.com/food-in-the-frame-mex-uk-2016

[Spanish]

La comida es más que combustible para el cuerpo, es parte de la identidad, cultura y personalidad de la gente. A pesar de que la cocina británica se ha enriquecido por una diversidad de culturas, y se han asimilado platillos extranjeros, aún creo que su esencia reside en la granja local. Desde la época medieval el sustento de muchas familias dependía de alimentos básicos que podían ser cultivados en su tierra y de bebidas fermentadas. Es por ello que existen productos alimenticios fuertemente asociados a cierta región o país, con lo cual se vuelven representaciones identitarias de sus habitantes.

Debido a su adaptabilidad, en términos climáticos y agrarios, la cebada ha sido importante en la dieta de un sinnúmero de personas en las Islas Británicas por siglos. Inspirado por la poesía Robert Burns, mi intención con esta serie de pinturas fue capturar la cebada como parte de la cocina, la vida social y paisaje británicos: es el ingrediente básico tanto de la cerveza como del whisky, y la preparación de pan, sopa y gruel con este grano fue común durante años.

En el siglo XVIII, Robert Burns fue capaz de evocar las ansiedades, penas, alegrías, tradiciones y modales del pueblo escocés, de distintos estratos sociales (especialmente el del campesinado), en varios de sus poemas y baladas sobre comida. En “John Barleycorn. A Ballad”, “Scotch Drink”, “Bannocks O’ Barley” y “O gude ale comes &c.” de manera creativa rinde homenaje a la cebada, presentándola como un símbolo de identidad nacional y parte de la vida cotidiana escocesa. Además, un poema como “The Cotter’s Saturday Night” sacraliza, de alguna manera, el trabajo y la familia del campesino, mostrando dignamente su cena y estilo de vida austeros… ¡Una dosis de alegría y nostalgia contenida en un grano!

Este proyecto fue posible gracias al apoyo de First Food Art Residency:

http://www.firstfoodresidency.com/food-in-the-frame-mex-uk-2016

the-cutters-mealThe Cutter’s Meal (or John Barleycorn on the Table), 2016, 50 x 50 cm. Oil on canvas.

Bread and beer are portrayed as a humble meal made of barley. Evoking the importance of bread and wine as a symbol of flesh and blood for Christian tradition, the bannock and the glass of beer embody John Barleycorn, sacrificed to give joy through its body transformed into food.

 

old-barley-fields Old Barley Fields, 2016, 60 x 45 cm. Oil on canvas.

As part of British landscape, barley fields are not only food but a source of feelings, ideas and memories. This painting shows a barley field seen through an old window. Time passes, turning all materiality into ruins like a house or the human body itself; however, the growing up of food will continue if the land is worked by people.

 

oh-gude-aleOh, Gude Ale!, 2016, 120 x 120 cm. Oil on canvas.

Barley is also important for the social environment in British culture. This ghostly scene represents people, as projections of memories, in a pub where the main character is beer. Although people commonly meets up to share their time, stories, afflictions, etc., sometimes there is loneliness among the crowd.

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