Edible portrait celebrates Delia's 20 years at BBC

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The Independent Online

She is the doyenne of celebrity cooking whose wholesome recipes are sacred to housewives and students alike. He is the avant-garde artist whose material for his stomach-churning sculptures is his own congealed blood.

But an unlikely union between Delia Smith and Marc Quinn has resulted in a creation that is as edible as it is strange: a portrait of the chef.

The portrait, commissioned to commemorate Smith's 20 years of working with the BBC, was arranged by Quinn using an assortment of ingredients from her most famous recipes.

At the centre of the portrait is a dark sculpture of Smith's head made of solid chocolate. With its closed eyes and murky consistency, the bust bears an uncanny resemblance to the work of art for which Quinn is possibly most renowned: his 1991 self-portrait, a bust of his head which he made by freezing nine pints of his own blood.

In the new portrait, the sinister quality of Smith's head is offset by its cheerful surroundings. As well as a bright blue backdrop with a cheery sunflower and pink party balloons, there is a reassuring display of ingredients that commonly feature in her recipes.

The head is served on a platter surrounded by an arrangement of fruit segments on a creamy icing base. Chunks of chocolate as well as grapes, strawberries and oranges are draped decoratively across the front of the portrait. And there is, of course, a saucepan of eggs in the background. Robin Wood, the BBC Books director, said: "It will remind everyone how she personifies delicious food."

Quinn rose to prominence in the early 1990s with his blood-based self-portrait. His status in the art world was confirmed when his work was snapped up by Charles Saatchi, the art collector. More recently, it was again the subject of attention when it reportedly melted in Saatchi's kitchen after workmen accidentally pulled out the plug of the freezer.