Early Work

1972 - 1996

 

Baseball Boot Cake (1972)

A kitchen in a semi-derelict butcher’s shop in Anerley, South London: “I started to make cakes for fun. Not for any occasions – just for the pleasure of it. In the middle of one night I made a baseball boot cake. I was particularly satisfied with it and sat looking at it for a long time. Suddenly it was like the heavens opened and a new thought shone into my brain – I’d made a Work of Art, a sculpture of equal status to Anthony Caro’s epic and huge sculptures. For a long time I just laughed with delight at the sheer irreverence of this decision to name such a pathetic, poorly crafted object ‘A Work of Art of Great Significance’. But I knew at the same moment that it was a pivotal turning point for me as an artist – I had discovered my own language, material, form – something that began to echo my fleeting thinking.”

Meringue Ladies World Tour I & II (1973)

Oval House, South London: “I was accompanied by a bunch of Meringue Ladies who I handed out to people. I wore a rudimentary hand-made Meringue Lady dress and swimming cap, to try to look like them. I loved the Meringue Ladies, whom I’d been making for a while. I thought they were a powerful, cheering and amusing bunch to perform with. As a group they form an image of strong women. Also it was easy, with my piping nozzle, to alter the mood of the crowd from happiness through to fury by adjusting their mouths. I was entertained by the idea of going on a world tour with them (Nottingham is the furthest we’ve gone, even after 35 years).”

An Edible Family in a Mobile Home (1976)

13 Conder Street, Stepney, London: “By now I lived in a prefab provided by Acme Housing Association for artists in the East End. I decided to make a life-size edible family and open the house to the public for one week. I ‘papered’ all the surfaces of the interior of the house with newsprint or magazines appropriate to the family member inhabiting each room. This included everything – furniture, curtains, floors, ceilings, walls etc. I then ‘iced’ each room in fitting styles. There were five members of the family – mother, father, teenage daughter, son and baby. I made all the armatures for the family figures and prepared and froze the cake in advance, before assembling the whole family for three days before the opening. With everyone who attended, I offered them a cup of tea from the mother’s head or other soft drinks. They were initially offered cake cut by me, but gradually, as the family disintegrated, people helped themselves, the children in handfuls stuffed into their mouths.”

Packed Lunch (1979)

Hayward Annual, Hayward Gallery, London; National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham; Old Mill Arts Centre, Loughborough. “I devised and prepared a packed lunch for the audiences. Andrewphotographed the preparation – 80 slides in all. The meal consisted of a hard-boiled egg, dyed pink for women, blue for men; a hand-made brown bread roll filled with Flora Margarine; a small bag of crudités; a small tub of aioli; a piece of fruit. The audiences sat at long tables and were served by me. They ate their meals watching a slide show with me ‘lecturing’ them on my skill, experience and consideration for their well-being in the preparation of these meals. I pointed out, for instance, the staggering beauty and strength of my hands as I crushed garlic into the mayonnaise.”

SPITTING MAD (1996)

Expanding Pictures – a BBC2 and ACE Commission, Euphoria Films. Executive producer, Keith Alexander. 9 minutes.
“I make a series of images on white oblong cloths taken from my laundry cupboard. The images are all created using food with a variety of techniques, which all involve the food entering and exiting my mouth onto the ‘canvas’. Whilst I create these images I converse about my artistic processes and decisions with satisfaction. The culmination of the sequence is me filling my mouth to brimming point with ketchup (my head held back with my mouth wide open to achieve maximum capacity) and then spitting it all on to the final cloth. The next shot shows me on a barge cruising past the Houses of Parliament using the flags to convey a semaphore message spelling out ‘PROVIDE BETTER FEEDING’.”