Portfolio: Felicity McCabe


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The Independent Culture

Anyone with a cursory interest in visual art will know that fruit is never just fruit, freighted as this most seemingly banal of subjects is with grave associations of decay and mortality. And so it is with photographer Felicity McCabe's shots of peaches, bananas et al, inspired by looking at Dutch still-life paintings at the National Gallery.

"A lot of them are [based] around that theme of vanitas," she says, "the futility of life and the fact that we're all assured of death. I wanted to echo that kind of thought – the idea that once the banana's been picked, you can't un-pick it."

Unlike her Dutch antecedents, however, McCabe has her symbolic comestibles not on tables or in bowls but gripped by laboratory clamps, putting a modern twist on the still-life tradition and creating a striking juxtaposition between the natural and technological.

McCabe admits that her work can also be read as a comment on our unnatural relationship with natural produce; or, as she puts it, "The idea that everything is measured and gauged and one peach is judged against the next as to which is more suitable to eat."

Perhaps they speak, too, of the elision between food production and manufacturing in an age of mass industrialised farming. See? There's more than one way to peel a banana.

For more images, see felicitymccabe.com