8 Edible Masterpieces

Savour a taste of the edible alphabet, from A to Z, with Carolyn Tillie’s new book A Feast for the Eyes: Edible Art from Apple to Zucchini.

From the surprising artistry of apple-head dolls, butter sculptures and coffee paintings to a grand cathedral carved entirely from salt, this delightful book features 100 examples of how throughout history artists have rendered their visions within the whimsical medium of food.

Here, Carolyn tells us about eight surprising images from the book that particularly caught her eye.

B is for Bread

Rachel Shimpock is a trained metalsmith who teaches classical jewellery techniques. She has also stylized herself as a ‘Kitchensmith’ with a desire to bring the comfort of food and the wistfulness of personal memories into her work. By electroforming and powder-coating actual food – in this case a slice of bread – she is able to preserve and embellish it. Bread bracelets, 2015, is made from bread, electroformed copper, silver, enamel and citrines.

C is for Chocolate

A chef works on a 2-m-high sculpture of Guan Yu made from chocolate for the Hong Kong A–Z Chocolate Art Exhibition in 2010.

K for Kyaraben

Kyara means ‘character’ and kyaraben started off as well-balanced and nutritious lunches, made by homemakers for their elementary or primary school children. Parents get their children to eat all of their vegetables and protein by creating cute and engaging characters – not to play with, but to attract the children by the food itself. This playful zebra is made of rice, complete with black nori stripes. It is surrounded by vegetables cut into flowers and deliciously playful tomato ladybirds.

P is for Pumpkin

Carving his own niche in the competitive and creative world of pumpkin decorating is ‘Farmer Mike’ Valladao. Wearing signature orange overalls, grasping chisels and a buck knife, and tackling pumpkins that can weigh 45 kilograms (100 lb) or more, Valladao sculpts more than he carves. Manifesting expressions of gnarled teeth, furrowed brows and glaring eyes in the pale orange flesh is no small feat, but it is masterfully palpable.

S is for Seed

In creating Star Trek-themed work, like Captain Kirk and the Gorn above, Nick Rindo is drawn to the ‘kitsch appeal’ of producing immediately recognizable images in only seeds and glue and having them admired by upwards of 200,000 visitors at the Minnesota State Fair each year.

S is for Sugar

Sugar is the single most diverse ingredient for foods artists. In its natural, unrefined state, it can be either a root vegetable – as in sugar beets – or bamboo-like reeds of sugar cane. Once processed and refined, its granular form is opaque and white, shimmery and pristine – like the sands of an albino beach. Shinri Tezuka's Amezaiku Goldfish, 2015, is created from sugar made from millet and known as mizuame, translated as ‘water candy’, similar to corn syrup where the starch from the plant is converted to sugar.

V is for Vegetable

Contemporary artist Klaus Enrique re-envisions Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s painting Vertumnus, from 1590, with real food – rosy cheeks with apple, a prominent sweet potato as a ruddy nose, and brooding peashoot eyelids furrowing his brow.

T is for Tea

As a trained physician, Ruth Tabancay is an anomaly as a food artist. She left private medical practice to pursue textile arts, invoking themes of geometry, science and anatomy in her art. The used teabags shown here in her work Colony, 2013, summon undertones of warmth and intimacy. 

– Carolyn Tillie

Discover 100 images like these in Carolyn's new book, A Feast for the Eyes: Edible Art from Apple to Zucchini, an aesthetic banquet that will delight your senses – and nourish mind, body and soul. Order now from our online shop.