Feast your eyes 🎨 🍔 🍳
All you can eat.
Hello! After a wee break, Tigers Are Better Looking is back in full swing. Things look a little different – we’ve moved over to Substack! In this week’s issue we’ve got a buffet of incredible artists who make food their subject.
All wrapped up
Artistic representations of food often focus on the finished dish. Whether it’s in photography or illustration, that’s what will inspire us to eat, buy, cook, try. But this often means we’re only getting half the story. From the cooking in a Studio Ghibli (let’s take a moment to appreciate the many and varied depictions of steam), to the descriptions of cooking in The Language of Food and The Joy Luck Club, the process tells us so much and really connects us to a dish, and the person making it. The slow movement and tactile nature of the domestic scenes captured in Bert & Roxy’s prints are a joy. We particularly like artist Jessica Yeong’s washing rice and frying prawns linocuts, but our favourite is this dumplings illustration (£12), which was inspired by her mother wrapping jiaozi.
It’s a powerful illustration that makes us want to eat more greens, but such is the nature of food writer and illustrator Elisabeth Luard’s work. Her greens are luscious and full of life – she even manages to make celery look inviting. We’ve plumped for this bouncy Swiss chard print (£18) but we could have easily got a few more of our five our a day with the cauliflower, kale and beetroot. Be quick if you spot one you fancy – the prints have a short season and there are only 10 of each.
Legs for days
There’s something rather unnerving about Anna Koska’s illustrations. You can almost imagine those spider crab legs skittering about the page. There’s a careful balance of striking and delicate in each piece, that perfectly bridges the gap between nature and table. The result is each illustration – whether a John Dory or radicchio – having its own personality. A3 prints of Anna’s work are available to buy for £120 and she runs an originals sale every Friday if you’re after a one-off. Her next book, From Coast & Cove, is out in May, but if you don’t want to wait, From Field & Forest is available now. They’re as much a celebration of the natural world as they are food.
Sometimes we choose a restaurant for the menu, but often we’re drawn to it because of a specific detail (Lina Stores, Bar Douro, Café Royal). While we’re indoors getting excited about tiles and flooring, artist Eleanor Crow has something of a fascination for the exterior, and many – such as The Fryer’s Delight – are captured in her book Shopfronts of London.
Further down the road, we like the detail and movement in Zoë Barker’s illustrations, and Matt Drawing Local’s excellent depictions of Sian’s neighbourhood (she’s also got her eye on Shoreditch Sketcher’s drawing of Montes – her favourite Italian deli).
The images aren’t just a celebration of our favourite places. They’re an illustrative record of our ever-changing cities. Cafés almost a century old are shutting up shop, rocketing high street rents mean that beloved neighbourhood restaurants get replaced by Costa overnight. Artists depicting local areas – and the establishments that mean so much to people – are creating visual archives of our communities.
One bad apple
Art in the 16th and 17th century was a smörgåsbord of juicy symbolism. Artists across Europe could tell a secret with a strawberry (the fruity equivalent of a man’s soul, apparently) or reveal someone’s status with a lemon (an expensive luxury back then).
Some, like Spanish Baroque painter Juan Sánchez Cotán, made a feature of the fact that fruit could be kept fresher for longer by hanging it on a string – as seen above in his lovely Still Life with Quince, Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber. Others preferred to embrace the sinister side of rotting fruit, using it to signify transience and our inevitable descent towards death. It’s rather more beautiful than it sounds, as Abraham Mignon’s Still life with rotting fruit and nuts on a stone ledge and Caravaggio’s Basket of Fruit so gorgeously prove.
Art’s fascination with decaying fruit may have waned somewhat since then, but there are some modern exponents of this mouldering visual metaphor – we love Kathleen Ryan’s Bad Fruit sculptures and photographer Klaus Pichler’s One Third, inspired by the shocking amount of food that goes to waste around the world.
We’ll never apologise for being drawn to a book by its cover, that’s the whole point of them, after all. The new recipe collections from Blasta Books are enticing us like hungry moths to a flame. The Irish publishing house likes to keep things short and sweet: each book is A5 and just 72 pages. There are around 30 recipes in each, which doesn’t sound like many, but consider how many recipes you make on average from each recipe book on your shelves. They’re charmingly illustrated throughout by Nicky Hooper and we are head over heels with the cover for Lily Ramirez-Foran’s Tacos which was released yesterday. With four books a year, they work as a lovely collectable mini-series, and the second instalment – Hot Fat – is out in May.
This week, Sian’s urging you to go and see the Helen Levitt exhibition at The Photographer’s Gallery before it closes, and Laura is making Nigella’s excellent clementine cake yet again. Like our new look? Buy us a cuppa.