"Revisiting Baker's Edible Family: A Feast for Thought at Tate Britain"
A woman gazes in awe at the radiant blue frosting above her, pondering the unconventional art of piping icing on a ceiling. Such fantastical questions echo through Bobby Baker's "An Edible Family in a Mobile Home," a feminist masterpiece making a remarkable return almost 50 years after its initial installation. This time, it graces the south lawn outside Tate Britain, prompting queries like "Who baked Coconut Cake Baby?" from intrigued onlookers.
The big question, however, is how a family crafted from flour, eggs, and sugar finds itself exhibited outdoors at the Tate. Baker was invited to restage her groundbreaking installation as part of the museum's "Women in Revolt!" show, a landmark survey of feminist art in the UK featuring over 100 artists, including Lubaina Himid, Sonia Boyce, and Mona Hatoum. Baker's work, positioned at the museum's entrance, serves as an appetizer to the exhibition.
Visitors are not merely invited to observe but encouraged to interact with and consume Baker's sculptures, continuing the immersive tradition established in 1976. "Coconut Cake Baby" is one of five edible family members faithfully recreated for the installation. A daughter, composed entirely of meringue, listens to Donna Summer's melodies from a vintage radio in the bedroom, while a teenage son, crafted from Garibaldi biscuits, luxuriates in a tub of moist chocolate cake. A fruit cake father lounges in his armchair, presiding over the living room, while the mother, fashioned from a dress mannequin with a teapot for a head, resides in the kitchen, serving crackers and dried fruit from her hollow abdomen.
The house is a sensory journey, adorned with newspaper pages, magazine clippings, and comic-book strips from the mid-Seventies, creating an immersive snapshot of the era. Reconstructing the installation took two months, but Baker's work is far from finished. Today, she assumes the role of the polite female host, a character she first embodied in the Seventies. Clad in an apron and chunky spectacles, she offers a warm "Milk and sugar?" from the kitchen. This time, Baker has enlisted a small troupe to share in the hostess duties, assembling the entire family within a replica of her original prefabricated home in east London, where, at 25 years old, she first presented this iconic exhibit. Now 73, the seasoned performance artist has had ample time to digest the profound meanings embedded in her work.
"For Nearly Three Decades, Bobby Baker Has Been Crafting Art That Challenges Conventional Notions of Domesticity"
For almost thirty years, Bobby Baker has been living up to the whimsical connotations of her surname, establishing a reputation for creating art that subverts traditional ideas surrounding domestic life. Renowned for her inventive works featuring meringue ladies, breadstick antlers, and emotions embodied in black treacle, Baker's art endeavors to bestow significance upon the often undervalued aspects of women's daily lives. Her latest masterpiece, "An Edible Family in a Mobile Home," presented at Tate Britain, forms a compelling part of this broader artistic purpose.
Reflecting on the origins of her unconventional approach, Baker recounts a pivotal moment in her artistic journey. Having studied painting at Central St Martins, she found herself in an environment that felt elitist and overwhelmingly male. The pressure to conform to traditional expectations within the art world led her to abandon that trajectory and explore the delightfully subversive realm of creating art from food. This shift, marked by crafting unconventional pieces from seemingly mundane objects, offered Baker a sense of radicality and wit that resonated with her artistic sensibilities.
The inception of "Edible Family" coincided with Baker's move to a small estate house in Stepney, courtesy of Acme, a charity dedicated to supporting artists in economic need. Surrounded by families and inspired by the vibrant community, she envisioned and brought to life a life-sized family made entirely from edible materials. In its original iteration, Baker undertook every aspect of the project herself, from baking and sculpting the cakes to creating and distributing invitations. The only exception was enlisting the help of her friend (and then-partner), photographer Andrew Whittuck, to assist in plastering the ceiling with newspaper—a task requiring his height. Additionally, her boyfriend's freezer, initially used for storing camera film, proved instrumental in preserving the intricate cake sculptures for extended periods.
As "Edible Home 2.0" opens, Baker's journey, marked by wit, subversion, and a commitment to celebrating the ordinary, continues to captivate audiences and challenge established norms in the realm of domestic and feminist art.
"Edible Family: A Scented Testament to Art's Transformative Power"
Preservation is not the primary objective of Bobby Baker's "Edible Family." Stepping into the replica home today, the first sensory impression is the intoxicating aroma of spun sugar and whipped butter, creating an atmosphere both delectable and transient. Baker herself anticipates the future scent, predicting it may turn "rancid," reminiscent of the macabre aftermath in her Stepney home weeks after the initial installation.
Interestingly, it was amidst the destruction wrought by hungry mouths that Baker realized she had unwittingly modeled her edible family after her own. Reflecting on her familial experiences, particularly the tumultuous period after her father's death when she was 15, Baker acknowledges the subconscious connection embedded in her creation. The initial impetus was not a conscious feminist statement, but over time, the emergent message became apparent.
"My experience has taught me increasingly that these strange ideas and images can become more clearly understood as you make them in hindsight – and that’s what has happened," Baker reflects. As she has navigated motherhood and grandmotherhood, a heightened awareness of unpaid domestic labor has crystallized. The pandemic further underscored the essential role of domestic labor, challenging the persisting stigma attached to it, often labeled as "menial" and entangled with issues of class, gender, and poverty.
Several aspects have evolved since the first installation – hand sanitizer pumps, sealed newspaper flooring for a mess-free experience, and vegan-friendly cake options. However, the core essence of "Edible Family" remains unchanged, standing as a testament to the enduring power of great art, even when destined to be consumed and disappear within a matter of days.
"Edible Family" welcomes the public at Tate Britain from November 8 to December 3, 2023, and from March 8 to April 7, 2024, offering a unique and evocative experience that transcends its ephemeral nature.
"Capturing Culinary Artistry: A Visual Feast from Bobby Baker’s 'Edible Home' at Tate Britain"
Immerse yourself in the delectable world of Bobby Baker's "Edible Home" installation at Tate Britain. Through captivating visuals, experience the whimsical creations that define this unique artistic endeavor. From the meringue "Daughter" to the fruit cake "Father" and the coconut cake "Baby," each edible sculpture tells a story of artistry and transience. Explore the living room adorned with a fruit cake patriarch, and marvel at the coconut cake infant nestled within this culinary domicile.
For those seeking thought-provoking conversations and a deeper dive into the realm of culinary art, join fellow Independent readers in the dialogue. Follow the discussions sparked by Baker's creations and witness the diverse perspectives shared by a community of art enthusiasts. Whether you're savoring the visual feast of Baker's edible family or engaging in conversations with like-minded individuals, the "Edible Home" installation promises a memorable and enriching experience.
Capture the essence of this culinary artistry by bookmarking your favorite articles and stories for later reference. Commence your journey into the world of independent premium content today and indulge in the multifaceted delights offered by Bobby Baker's "Edible Home" at Tate Britain in London.
"Edible Home" at Tate Britain not only invites audiences into a visually stunning world of culinary artistry but also sparks thought-provoking conversations among Independent readers. The whimsical sculptures, from the meringue "Daughter" to the fruit cake "Father" and the coconut cake "Baby," weave a narrative of creativity and transience. As visitors explore the living room adorned with a patriarch made of fruit cake and witness the coconut cake infant nestled within this edible domicile, they are treated to a sensory and thought-provoking experience.
For those eager to delve deeper into the conversations sparked by Bobby Baker's creations, joining the Independent community offers a platform to engage with like-minded individuals. The diverse perspectives and discussions surrounding the "Edible Home" installation add an enriching layer to the overall experience. Whether savoring the visual feast of Baker's edible family or actively participating in conversations, the installation at Tate Britain promises a memorable journey into the intersection of culinary and artistic expression.
To revisit and share these captivating moments, readers can bookmark their favorite articles and stories, creating a virtual archive of their culinary art adventure. The "Edible Home" installation encapsulates not just the ephemeral nature of its edible components but also the lasting impact of art that transcends traditional boundaries. Commence your exploration into this culinary masterpiece, and join the Independent Premium subscription to unlock a world of engaging content and discussions.