Hand Baked Memories
I’ve been working with the national writers’ association 26 over the past few months on an exciting project to promote Cornish produce within a gallery and restaurant setting. I was paired up with the writing genius Peter Blackman @DoubleArt and given one of the 26 Flavours of Cornwall, in our case, Pasties!
The challenge was to create a piece that would mounted in a wall space at Trebah Gardens and also have the dual purpose of becoming a paper table-setting in their restaurant.
We’ve tried to create a piece about the pasty and the power of involuntary memory – where food evokes recollections of the past without conscious effort. First explored by Proust in his epic ‘In Search of Lost Time’, we’ve tried to keep things a little more succinct than Marcel’s 4000 page masterpiece. The evocation of memory seemed particularly appropriate for this subject, for not only is a pasty warm, homely food for the body and soul, it is also often eaten as an accompaniment to our lives – what we do and who we do it with. So the pasty is a companion to activity in a way that ‘sit down’ formal dishes are not.
For example, we eat our first pasties as a creative team as we walked to the Lizard. Not before, or after, but as we did so. On the same day we saw the local Fire Brigade drop into Anns Pasties. A large bag of pasties swept up into the cabin to sustain a hungry team as they went about their important work. Farmers called in, parking lopsided ramshackle estate cars held together with baler twine, sharing their pasties with their alert, expectant dogs.
In order to show the way that the pasty accompanies the everyday life of Cornwall, we selected eleven different scenarios and characters. From farm workers to fishermen, tourists to native teenagers. First of all we wrote them up, creating diverse voices and narratives, then using the inspiration from the pasties baking in regimented formation on their red hot trays we created the idea of baking the memories of the day ahead, each hand crafted and unique, everyone of them capturing a moment. We selected type styles that embodied the subjects and wove the text lovingly by hand into the shapes of ‘top crimped’ pasties. Each pasty is therefore unique, each one of them made with a person in mind. All baked and ready for their prospective owner to walk through the door, select their pasty and enjoy it as part of the day to come, whether that’s the unrelenting cauliflower cutting of a migrant farm worker, or children huddled up under a blanket on the beach.
It was our intention that this would be a dynamic typographic piece featuring characters and narrative which are intriguing and engaging, but also elliptic and fragmentary, so that the memories of the reader / viewer come to mind. A piece that honours the humble pasty from a new angle, embraces the audience within the space it is meant to be enjoyed, entertaining them and reminding them how special a pasty truly is.
If you would like to find out more about our piece just go to the 26 Flavours website where we tweeted and blogged about our adventures and creative ideas throughout the process. Here you’ll also find the other 25 Flavours that are part of the exhibition which will run for 26 days at Trebah Gardens.