Humans have a complex relationship with mealtimes; the dining rituals, quirky food hang ups and memories forged in childhood of that one recipe your Grandmother made. Food and art have long been closely connected to pleasure via the senses and often the lines are blurred between the two.
Enjoy a meal at any fine dining restaurant and it can sometimes seem sacrilegious to fork apart an artfully crafted plate, yet we all surrender once our eyes and nose have had the first feast.
It’s in this fascinating space that Brisbane artist Elizabeth Willing has spent almost a decade exploring our relationship to food and the dining experience. Her work practice has examined gastronomy from various perspectives, incorporating sculpture, installation and performance dining events. Her subject can range from wearable food art, eating disorders and food history, to more nuanced questions about the process of eating, sensuality and sensory pleasure.
Willing, a Fine Art honours student from QUT and awarded the QAGOMA Melville Haysom Scholarship in 2010, has travelled the globe exploring these questions. Her professional development has seen her work with New York artist Janine Antoni (2011), the Experimental Food Society in London (2012) and Thomas Rentmeister in Berlin (2014). This year, after a 12 month post as Australia Council Artist in Residence at the Kunstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin (2014-15).
Willing is back in her home town of Brisbane to deliver her latest in a long body of work; a unique multi-sensory degustation dinner named ‘We Who Eat Together’.
Former Executive Chef Josue Lopez was at the helm of GOMA’s own Restaurant for over four years, receiving multiple awards including two Chef Hat status from the Good Food Guide for his pioneering culinary style. Taking inspiration and context directly from the art around him, Lopez brings an artistic process every bit as informed by sensory exploration as Willing’s. Drawing on ‘coherence and deliciousness’ as his ongoing creative force, his food concepts are designed to tune in to your senses in subtle ways. Josue believes in each element on the plate speaking for itself, while leaving room for the other voices in the dish, which includes the wine. His attention to the senses compliments Willing’s art practice and together they’ve explored their common interests from opposite perspectives.
In a QAGOMA first, as part of the ‘GOMA Turns 10’ celebrations, Willing & Lopez collaborated to deliver an exceptional dining experience, blending performance art and food. The dinner is their response to the summer exhibition ‘Sugar Spin: You, Me, Art and Everything’, which is a retrospective of GOMA’s most popular artworks and installations over the past 10 years.
Each of the seven courses includes custom-made artworks, unexpected twists on familiar ideas and cultural explorations; developed by the pair to evoke all the senses and invite the audience to reassess their relationship with mealtimes. A retrospective of sorts, together the pair explore some of their own ideas from their very different journeys with food and some new ideas devised purely for the love of creating an experience for the audience. Be prepared for dishes that evoke strong responses and vivid memories, such as the aching sweetness of your first high-school kiss.
This dinner is not to be missed; with limited seating and only one performance date announced, you will be guided through each course with live discussion by Josue and Elizabeth. Packed full of nostalgia, stunning art and food concepts, and genuine surprises, the dinner is designed to be playful, thought-provoking and shared with wonder.
Amy McElhenny, QAGOMA
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) operates its own restaurant, bistro and cafe using local seasonal produce to create menus inspired by the art on display. Enhance your visit with a dining experience at the GOMA Restaurant, GOMA Bistro or QAG Cafe.
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‘We Who Eat Together’ was a multi-sensory degustation held in an intimate setting at GOMA Restaurant on Thursday 23 February 2017. Guests experienced seven courses of gastronomic art, complimented by Yarra Valley wine varieties from QAGOMA’s proud partner, Yering Station.