Tasty art exhibit doomed to rot: Dalya Alberge reports on an artist whose work will whet appetites

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The Independent Online
IF YOU sometimes think that your pot of creamy emulsion looks good enough to eat, at the Karsten Schubert gallery, in central London, the paint really is delicious. Gallery walls are being painted with plain chocolate.

This is the latest installation from Anya Gallaccio, a young British artist who has made her name with works using organic materials. In 1990, for example, it was steam, with 24 kettles whistling in unison; and in 1992, it was fresh flowers, in a carpet of 10,000 roses. As with earlier works, the chocolate piece will rot and, as the gallery put it, 'transform the work from something serene and beautiful to something repellent, and yet morbidly alluring'.

Cadbury's provided 63kg of its Bournville chocolate bars, in return for pounds 100 being donated to the Save the Children Fund.

With a team of 10 helpers, Ms Gallaccio has spent the past week applying three layers of chocolate to the gallery walls. On Monday, she was crumbling chocolate into a pan and melting it over a portable electric stove. She was surrounded by boxes bulging with Bournville bars.

While she was busy doing that, her team was painting the walls. One man, licking his fingers, commented that chocolate does not take long to dry. Ms Gallaccio, concerned about streaky white patches, took a brush to them: the smoother and shinier the surface, the more 'sexy' the look, she explained.

She first created the piece last year in Vienna, a city synonymous with chocolate, inspired by the dark wood-panelling of its coffee houses. But, beyond that, she preferred not to comment on what she was trying to express.

She said: 'The Viennese made the obvious Freudian connections . . . that it looks like shit on the wall.' However, some apparently developed such a taste for her art, they were licking the walls at the opening. 'There were nose and tongue marks over it.'

Karsten Schubert described the work as both formal and frivolous. 'It's a depressing colour, but a sexy material,' he said.

Ms Gallaccio's chocolate room will be ready for public consumption today. Collectors whose appetites are whetted by it will be able to buy it, for pounds 5,000: a certificate will be issued, and the work redone elsewhere.

(Photograph omitted)