Postcards from the veg: Carl Warner's food landscapes aren't just beautiful, they're downright delicious
If Carl Warner's photography looks good enough to eat, that's because it is. His landscape portraits are created entirely out of food. Trees are made from broccoli, the clouds are cauliflower and mountains are formed from piles of mashed potato. The result is a body of work that is irreverent, whimsical and fun. Warner created his first "foodscape" in 1999, after a trip to the market left him thinking how much Portobello mushrooms looked like trees. That led to Mushroom Savanna, which re-imagined the fungi as part of an African landscape.
There is a long tradition of food art, dating back to the 16th century and the work of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, who painted portraits in which the features were comprised of food. Of course, Warner's is a much more sophisticated operation, one that requires a studio and a team of helpers, including food stylists and model-makers. Each landscape is built on a table in the studio and "Photoshop and post-production techniques are only used to embellish and enhance rather than to actually compose", Warner says.
The key to a good foodscape is to play on the familiar, he says. "I often use quite classic compositions in my work because I want people to be comfortable with what they're looking at," Warner says. "If people see something that reminds them of a painting or a postcard then that's good because it deceives them all the more; they don't realise it's made of food until they get up close. If I did contemporary-looking landscapes with food, it would be too abstract and people wouldn't get it. It's important that it's something they feel they've seen before." Cabbage Sea, a seascape featuring a small boat in trouble on tempestuous waters (made of red cabbage and radicchio), is reminiscent of classic scenes in marine art.
His admiration for other photographers' work, including Tessa Traeger's A Visual Feast and Ansel Adams, also creeps into his own. Broccoli Forest was directly inspired by one of Adams' black and white photographs of the Yosemite Valley in California. There are also nods to film and literature in Warner's pictures; a spooky image of giant garlic bulbs is called Garlicshire, named after J R R Tolkien's The Shire.
But working with fresh produce is not without its difficulties and Warner's most challenging piece to date has been one of the London skyline, which took five days to create and had to be shot in sections. "It takes a whole day just to do the Houses of Parliament," he says. "So by the time you build the rest of it, four days later, the Houses have completely wilted."
See Carl's work, including his new piece 'Pumpkinland', at the Royal Horticultural Society London Autumn Harvest Show. 4-5 October, RHS Horticultural Halls. To order tickets call 0845 612 1253 or visit www.rhs.org.uk/londonshows
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Unseen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory chapter deemed 'too subversive' released
- 2 Ebola virus: It's ripped through towns – now the deadliest ever outbreak of the virus is heading for Africa's teeming cities
- 3 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Unseen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory chapter deemed 'too subversive' released
Doctor Who, Into the Dalek, TV review: Classic sci-fi adventure has blockbuster spectacle
Al Pacino's The Humbling and Manglehorn, film reviews
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
The Leftovers, TV preview: Prepare to be bewildered by the latest mystery from the creator of Lost
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward