Picture Post: Is it art? Only Smarties have the answer

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The Independent Culture

Ever since Marcel Duchamp had the bright idea of turning a porcelain urinal into a work of sculpture, modern artists have been scouring the surface of planet Earth for new media with which to craft lovingly their wares.

You name it, they've done it. Over the years, rubbish, bricks, empty cardboard boxes, and even elephant poo artworks, have proved that you can take anything, bung it on a plinth and people will queue to see it.

In this spirit, the edible images on this page are to go on display at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, east London, from Friday. Edible, you say? That's because they aren't made from the results of a raid on Damien Hirst's medicine cabinet (as you might believe at first glance), but instead from a large number of those crisply coated sugary treats: Smarties.

Put in place by "food artist" Prudence Emma Staite, this delectable exhibition includes versions of Clean Streets Maid by Banksy and Georges-Pierre Seurat's Bathers at Asnières.

It's all very pretty. But does the collection of confection posit any deep artistic questions? Bluffers could, for example, venture that the chocolate aggregations mimic the coarse brush-strokes of a Van Gogh, or a very, very small Bridget Riley. You could say that the subtle reinterpretation of the original colours is deliciously Post-Modern.

Ultimately, however, the question on most visitors' lips will be whether any adventurous kiddiewinks will choose to pick apart the Angel of the North's feet (mostly orange) or the lips of Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe (red liner).

Oh, and as ever with contemporary art, the artistic integrity of this project comes at a price. A somewhat pompous press release accompanying yesterday's launch noted that the pictures had been created as part of a lucrative publicity stunt: to mark the re-launch of the little bundles of sweetness that are Nestlé's blue Smarties.