Sunday, June 25, 2017

2017 Warren Mackenzie Advancement Award: Residents in the Kitchen


In everyday life food is never presented or served in isolation. Food is always placed in a container either disposable-like packaging or indispensable such as a plate or a bowl. My investigation of plating and platewares has led me to a residency at Guldegargaard International Ceramic Research Center in Skaelskor, Denmark. I started my research investigating the formal elements of dishware, such as color, size and shape that psychologically influence the way in which food is perceived. This commonly neglected element of a meal can affect everything from how we perceive the taste of food to how much we eat. Of particular interest are the socially constructed notions of the likely 
taste and flavor of foods contained in ceramic wares.

  • Size, Shape, and color have an effect on the flavor perception of food. 
  • Blue = salty
  • Red = Sweet
  • Green = sourness 
  • People are happier with smaller portions off of a blue plate
  • Color contrast illusion – look it up, grapes look redder on a blue plate
  • Plate = background (could this be foregrounded?)
  • White is best for dessert plates.
  • Law of opposites, round food needs a square or rectangular plate
  • Aesthetic choices can inform how the diner responds to the dish
I choose Guldegargaard for the opportunity to work with an international population of artists that have an appreciation for the hand and the acceptance of the individual elements in life, both in living and making. As well as for the evening meal rota they practice there. The residents of Guldagergaard take turns cooking a family meal each night. I planned to use the evening meal rota as research and development to document shared meals from different cultures. Each day creating a food memory drawing composition inspired by a dish or ingredient from the last night’s meal. The formal elements of the drawings will inform visual connections between the basic flavors of a meal and individual flavor experiences. I look forward to being inspired by new people, familiar and foreign flavors, and fresh possibilities.

This research will inform the design and fabrication of five slip-casting molds. The forms will be a line, or related series of individual ceramic pieces. This line of functional tableware will be intimate in scale, suitable for one or two person utility. Asymmetry and clean lines will characterize the resulting forms. From a mind and mouth perspective I will interpret the five universally recognized basic tastes – sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami (savory). Through form, color and texture I will visually translate these biological flavor perceptions into sensorial ceramic objects.

A scene from Copenhagen, Denmark. Copenhagen is historically a maritime city and harbor. The residency is  two trains, a bus ride, and short walk to the resident house in Skaelskor, Denmark from the Copenhagen Airport.
Skaelskor, Denmark is home to the residency as well as loads of wide open spaces. It is the perfect destination for peaceful respite from fast paced city life and uninterrupted studio time for creative development.
This is Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Center. The studio use to be a farmhouse for a fruit orchard. The ceramic residency is celebrating its 20 year anniversary in July.
There is typical 6 to 13 residents and staff living and working there at one time. The stay duration range greatly and artists come and go on individual schedules. It also seemed a common trend to extend the stay time. I stayed an extra half a week, and this figure sculptor from New Zealand, Jim Cooper, came for a 6 week residency last September and has stayed for eight months. The studio manager calls Guldagergaard the "Health Farm" because its such a quiet and restful place, and the residents are taken care of and well feed.
One of the main reasons I choose this residency out of all the wonderful international options for residencies is the evening meal rota the residents participate in. Each night the residents take turns cooking for the whole house. Meaning that about once a week I took time off from studio for half a day to make a large family meal for dinner. As much of my form research is food focused, I decided to use these meals as an avenue for research.

I wanted to investigate the relationship between plating and plateware on the multisensory perception of food. I used the evening meal rota as research and development to document shared meals from different cultures.
The morning after each meal I would create a quick food memory drawing using the visual and sensorial elements of a particular dish from the night before. The formal elements of the drawings will then informed visual connections between the basic flavors of a meal and individual flavor experiences. This drawing was meant to capture a Danish delicacy Sister Bread made with beer. Sweet and grainy characterizes its flavors.

 This drawing was inspired by a black rice, sweet potato, and ginger dish made my Joe, a Chicago native artist.

A memory of cucumber salad with pomegranate and mint. The early drawings captured more representation elements based on the color and shape of the food. The later drawings became more abstract.

A memory of a nut loaf bread made by Danish Artist Dorte. She had the most interested baking methodology I have ever seen. She threw ingredients together in a large mixing bowl relying only on instinct of a recipe that had been made time and again. There was no measuring or concern for proper dissolving of the yeast. The resulting bread was perfectly soft and fluffy; it tasted earthy, round, bold, and savory for the myriad of nuts in it.

Traditional ancient nut and seed bread. This Danish delight is made without any flour which yields an incredibly dense yet thinly sliced bread. The Danes are wild about their baked goods.

Each day my collect of food memories grew and I posted them in my studio space to influence the formal elements of dishware, such as color, size and shape that psychologically influence the way in which food is perceived.

A former orchard, Guldegargaard is celebrating its Twentieth Anniversary this year. The land surrounding the residency is a vast municipal park and often town’s people walking by peak their heads in the studio to see what’s being made. The town of Skaelskor is a quaint seaside town in the Slagelse municipality on the Danish island of Zealand. The town has a population of 6,532. And is home to one of Denmark's largest breweries, the Harboe Brewery. Some days the wind would shift and the whole town smelled like brewing hops.


Spence, Charles, and Betina Piqueras-Fiszman. "Chapter 4: Plating and Plateware: On the Multisensory Presentation of Food." The Perfect Meal: The Multisensory Science of Food and Dining. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons, 2014. N. pag. Print.

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