Art: Food – Bigger than the Plate

The latest immersive and interactive exhibition at V&A museum explores our current and future relationship with food, available until 20th October 2019, it brings together different innovators, communities and organisations to consider what collective choices will lead a more sustainable and delicious food future.

It is a topic that is close to my heart, food sustainability is a key concern of our times and rightly so. One has to consider how we will feed the world in the future where population growth is expected to reach close to 10 billion people by 2050  and without damaging our world even further. The V&A tastefully explores this question and gives us hope that there are people out there doing their best to change the world.

Key Highlights

The exhibition is split into 5 key components, starting with composting and navigated all the way to eating; representing the natural food cycle. I have highlighted my favourite pieces and new ideas from the exhibition below.

Composting

Compost is the organic matter that has been decomposed in a process called composting. This process recycles various organic materials otherwise regarded as waste products and produces a soil conditioner (the compost).

The exhibition starts off with the consideration that if you are a consumer, you are also a producer. If you eat, you produce waste – not just the fundamental human poop but also the by-products that come with food production.  It is a lot of waste and our usual reaction is just to get rid off it, it is “undesirable” and ends up in landfill or our oceans. It breaks the cycle of nutrients. This is exactly why we need to familiarise ourselves with the natural cycle of reproduction, growth and decay which returns organic waste to the soil to provide nutrients for future growth. Luckily there are a lot of smart people who have started to think outside the box!

  • Loowatt (2019) – Closes the loop on human waste, they have developed a waterless flush toilet and manages the collection, transfer and treatment of faecal sludge. Waste is converted to energy and fertiliser. An innovative and sustainable way to manage human waste across the globe.
  • Urban Mushroom (2019) – Oyster mushrooms growing on a bed of used coffee beans from the visitors of the V&A museum. This was an extraordinary way to recycle used coffee grounds which normally just end up in the landfill. Is this the future of farming in our cities?

Farming

Farming is the fundamental way to grow our food, however, there is a disconnect between us and how food ends up on the table. With the rise of human convenience, everything is packaged and beautifully displayed in our supermarkets; often from far-flung and exotic places. Recently I bought green grapes that came all the way from Brazil, and I had to stop and think – wait .. is this right? Should I not just eat produce that is in season? By being removed from the process and the slick machine of globalisation has meant that produce is available all year round – do we stop and think – how was this grown? where did it come from?

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Key highlights for this section of the exhibition is the beautiful wall art by Fallen Fruit, which was inspired by depictions of fruit from the V&A collection.

Having lived in Hong Kong for two years, I was surprised and humbled to see that there is a small food revolution occurring and is being displayed back in London, my home town. HK Farm is a collective of artists, designers and farmers who grow food locally on rooftops and questions the values of the contemporary city in the process. Being able to grow and produce food right in the heart of one of the world’s greatest concrete jungle was refreshing to see.

I would also recommend everyone to take time to sit down and watch a video montage on European food production Our Daily Bread by Geyrhalter and Widerhofer (2005). It is not an easy watch, but necessary.

Trading

https://images.app.goo.gl/wNHqsRJyBQEKYaUX9

How do we get our food? How is it transferred to us? How many hands does it need to pass before we get to consume it? This section of the exhibition explores the globalisation machine and how it is easy to hide the environmental and social costs of food production.

  • Ester Hernandez: Sun Mad (2008) – This iconic poster (above) is by the Chicana (American – Mexican) artist Ester Hernandez, it was created to draw public attention on the human cost of the grape harvest, including the harmful effects of pesticides on pickers. In 2008 as displayed above, it was updated to include an “ICE” bracelet to signify the fate of many immigrants farmworkers working in the US.
  • Johanna Seelemann: Banana Story (2018) – This was another enlightening video on the world’s most popular fruit. It challenges the simplistic narrative of the “Made in” label. The video is a story of one banana who travels 8800km, crossing multiple national borders and 33 hands before landing on the shelves of a consumer.

Cooking

Evolution of cooking by Ferran Adrià was explored in this part of the exhibition, the head chef of El Bulli from 1987 until 2011, changed the way restaurants cook and serve food around the globe. His cooking extends beyond cooking and explores the deep history, in what he considers the fundamental part of human evolution. The drawings reflect his understanding and analysis of the development of cooking in human history.

Eating

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Eating – my favourite part of the cycle and comes to the end of the exhibition. The most memorable display is “Self Made” by Christina Agapakis & Sissel Tolaas (2013)  and it is definitely not for the squeamish! Some of our tastiest food is made with the help of microbes. Cultured from some famous individuals such as Heston Blumenthal’s, their bacteria was used to produce cheese forming a “microbial portrait”. The project was to challenge our perceived notion of bacteria and develop understandings of the microbiome and its role in how our bodies function. Grim, but a must see.

A wonderful display and truly enlightening experience. I did come away feeling that I should reconsider becoming a full vegetarian though! As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the exhibition and your thoughts of food in general.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

 

Art: Christian Dior – Designer of Dreams

Dior

Dior. For many women, the four-letter word exudes iconic, feminine, aspirational – the list can go on. It is easy to understand when the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (“V&A”) announced their upcoming Christian Dior – Designer of Dreams exhibition there was much furore; so much so that the exhibition had to be extended to 1 September 2019, and even then, the tickets are all sold out

So far, there has been a mixed reception with some critics noting “style over substance” highlighting the display failed to set the scene and did not match the history of Dior with the social economic climate of the times. Others, have showered it with praise and described it as a wonderful show of Monsieur Dior’s fairytale; some even go as far to describe it as “the greatest fashion show the V&A has ever staged”.

Given the difficulty in obtaining the tickets to the exhibition, expectations were high. Located in the newly built and cavernous Sainsbury’s Gallery, with structural curves to die for. The new space was a welcomed changed to previous fashion exhibitions, such as Balencigia and Fashioned from Nature, where they were located in a dark corner of the museum.

The start of the exhibition centres around the iconic New Look with the Bar Suit. A white boxy suit jacket with an impossibly cinched (pretty sure it was the width of my one thigh!) and the voluminous skirts, which was a dramatic departure from the fabric rationing during the war period. The exhibition vaguely moves from the history of Dior fashion house starting with 1946 at Avenue Montaigne and ending with the final runway piece of 2019 by the inspirational Maria Grazia Chiuri. Personally, she is my favourite creative director in the history Dior, with her debut giving tribute to the iconic Dior “New Look”. Noting sadly that my body shape would ever fit into the ultra nipped waists of the look, one can still dream of the whimsical skirts of tulle.

As you walk through the exhibition navigating between dimly lit rooms to the beautifully decorated, such as the “flower” room by the design studio Wanda Barcelona and the finale Ball Room, one can’t help to be mesmerised. However, it was difficult to follow the theme throughout as each room seemed independent and did not flow onto the next. Each room was aesthetically pleasing and each garment beautifully displayed but it failed to share much detail on the pieces. The overall experience felt like an extravagant fashion show with mannequins, where guests had to walk around and fight for a closer view. Ultimately, the exhibition failed to tell a story.

Despite this, undoubtedly, there were elements of the show which made the visit worthwhile. It was an opportunity to see these beautiful garments up close and admire the details, where one would not have had a chance otherwise. The innovative styles, the intricate stitching and the structure of garments honour not only the designers but the ateliers who turned sketches to exquisite and alluring pieces of art. For those who have tickets to the exhibition, you have plenty to look forward to and it is worth the wait!

The Pineapple Chicken gives the exhibition a 4 out of 5 pineapples. Have any of you been yet? What were your favourite pieces? As always, I would love to hear from you!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

P.S The Little Big Movement is now back online! Check him out here!

Culture: The Sun – Living with our Star


Hi everyone!

How are you all doing? Are you looking forward to the weekend? I will be in Paris from Friday, so I am hoping for good weather and more photos to share with you on the blog :). Last Sunday, I visited the Science Museum’s exhibition – The Sun: Living with our Star. It has been running for a while and will continue until the 6th May 2019. For those who haven’t yet checked it out, you still have plenty of time!

Science Museum

I have not visited the Science Museum in South Kensington, London in many years. It is still one of the coolest places. It is a huge space and covers a vast range of topics. For those that don’t have a chance to visit London anytime soon, they have improved their digital resources and it is now possible to search and explore over 250,000 objects online.

Last Sunday was glorious. The weather was just perfect which is unheard of at this time of year, it was around 15 degrees Celsius and the sky was beautifully clear and blue. I managed to capture some pretty awesome shots outside and the lighting in the beautiful entrance hall.

The Sun: Living with our Star

The exhibition focuses on our nearest star – the Sun through objects, interactive videos and imagery. It is an in-depth study, starting with how it has been worshipped through history and how it is the centre of how time is measured on Earth. One of the coolest displays was a game on how to read sundials – this might sound silly, but I have never learnt how to read one, so now I know which I think it is pretty cool! Despite it being made for kids and we all now have watches and phones which tell the time…maybe in an apocalyptic scenario it might prove useful.

The exhibition then moves onto the next room to explain how the sun can impact our health. From being used to prevent/cure diseases such as Tuberculosis in Victorian times to the invention of sunlamps in the 1920/30s, through to the societal shift after the War, where people started to enjoy the healthy sun kissed looked and the rise of skin cancer since then. I spent a lot of time in this room as there was a lot of information dotted around and some vintage advertisements from different eras.

You can’t help to notice the “fake” beach setting with gold palm trees and some random deck chairs located right in the middle of the room. Guess it is made more for kids and potentially an Instagram moment?! I did appreciate; however, the constant background noise of the sea and seagulls; made me think that I need to plan a trip to the seaside soon!


The exhibition then moves on to how humans have been trying to harness the sun for energy. Given that I work in the renewables industry, this section was probably my favourite. It was awesome to see the beginnings of solar energy. Surprisingly, the use of fossil fuels and how it will eventually run out was already considered by the engineers of the Industrial Revolution, yet several hundred years on, we continue to use these pollutants as our main source of energy [Rant over]. One of the interactive exhibits was to try and bounce “sun rays” into a solar panel and light up a central light. It stumped me a bit, but I challenge anyone else to give it a go!

The final room of the exhibit explains the dangers of the solar storms caused by sunspots, with a focus on a storm in 1859, also known as the Carrington Event.

I knew nothing about this or the impact it would have on us today given all the technology we have. There is a very good video which explains the phenomenon in the exhibition, admittedly, made for kids, but very interesting nonetheless! There is also a game to try and save the Earth from future sun storms, I also challenge anyone to get full marks (I got 4 out of 5…clearly I was too risk-averse!).

The exhibition ends with a large room with awesome footages of the solar flares and sunspots. A vivid reminder of how small we are in comparison in the grand scheme of space and within our solar system.

Overall, it was an extremely informative exhibition and took me around an hour to complete. I highly recommend it for families as it is more catered for children. However, that is not to say an adult won’t enjoy it too (like me!). The exhibition gets a solid 3.5/5 pineapples!

I hope you enjoyed the little science snippets of the day as it is slightly different from the usual art and culture on the blog. I would love to hear from you, so do leave a comment below!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken

Culture: I am Ashurbanipal

Hi everyone!

How has your week been so far? I am not going to lie – I feel like January is starting to drag, however, I can’t believe that it is already near the end of the month and I have Chinese New Year to look forward to!  To keep my spirits high and trying not to let the cold winter days bring me down I have been keeping my eye out for exhibitions in London to share with you all.

Last Sunday, I went to the British Museum to visit “I am Ashurbanipal, king of the world, king of Assyria” exhibition. Though I have been fascinated by the history of Babylon and the Middle Eastern region during this time, I do not know very much about that period apart from the beautiful statues that I had previously seen in the British Museum and the Louvre. As you can imagine, I was super excited to learn a little bit more about the Assyrian empire. The current exhibition will be available until 24th February, so if you are in town and want to keep out the winter cold, I would highly recommend the exhibition.

King Ashurbanipal of Assyria (r. 669–c. 631 BC) was the most powerful man on earth. He described himself in inscriptions as ‘king of the world’, and his reign from the city of Nineveh (now in northern Iraq) marked the high point of the Assyrian empire, which stretched from the shores of the eastern Mediterranean to the mountains of western Iran. – British Museum

The Lions and the Library

When you first enter the exhibition, there is a wonderful ambience. I personally, think it is one of the most tastefully displayed exhibitions that I have been to in a long time. The room was relatively dark but key pieces were highlighted with spotlights. From the start, the impression I got about King Ashurbanipal was that he completely understood the concept of “personal brand”. The beautiful artwork carved in gypsum clearly advertises his bravery through the killing of lions – the greatest beast in the Assyrian empire. Not only did he consistently boast how brave he was but also liked to tell everyone how smart he was. During his reign, he made it a mission to learn from the scholars at the time.  There were great examples of their clay tablets and writings at the exhibition, including extracts of the Epic of Gilgamesh

Lights & Action

Assyrian artists seemed to have enjoyed depicting their success of wars through cruelty and brutality in extremely graphic detail! The museum made wonderful use of projectors, which I had never seen before. By projecting an outline on a different part of the panel, you were able to follow the intricate story; it really gave an insight into how stories were told to the masses during that time. With sound and lighting effects – it was just like a movie. I found it truly jaw-dropping; even if you might not be interested in the history, it is worth just to see the use of projectors!

I spent roughly two hours at the exhibition, and this was also not at my usual pace of reading every single thing possible. There was so much in the exhibition, unfortunately,  I did get fatigued with all the information and intricate objects that I found myself skipping certain items or sections because I just couldn’t absorb any more facts.

If I was to give feedback to the British Museum, they should have provided an option of an audio guide, so that it was easier to step back and observe an object and listen to commentary rather than rely on the information written on display. There was exclusive curators’ commentary available through Apple Music and Google Play. However, by the time I found out about it, I was already inside the exhibition with no reception so I couldn’t download the audio guide and I also didn’t have my headphones either…

Nonetheless, it was a great exhibition; so it gets a 4 out of 5 pineapples. Have any of you been? What were your thoughts? As always, I would love to read your comments and thoughts. Do share any interesting facts about the Assyrian empire with me; or if you have any questions on the exhibition, please comment below!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

P.S The Guardian does a great review of this exhibition as well if you want to learn more!.

 

 

Art: Shape Shifters

Hi Everyone,

How are you all doing? I have had a rough start to the week, unfortunately, I was down with a cough which then developed further to a very sniffly cold. On cue – the world’s smallest violin plays hehe! However, it did not stop me doing something to lift my spirits last weekend. Nothing is better than a bit of contemporary art!

The Hayward Gallery is one of my favourite art galleries in London and, so far, I love the exhibitions they have held. My previous visit was to see Lee Bul and this time it was to see their latest exhibition Shape Shifters – which is a major group show bringing together sculptures and installations that explore perception and space. It is available until the 6 January 2019 and I highly recommend a visit if you are in London. I thought it was one of the best exhibitions I have been to this year (possibly better than Lee Bul). Thus, scores 5 out of 5 pineapples!

The website has a very in-depth guide to a few of the key pieces, so in case you won’t be able to make it physically, hopefully, this post and the website would give you a good idea of what was there 🙂

The Favourite

WeltenLinie (2017) by Alicja Kwade

My personal favourite was the sculpture WeltenLinie (2017) by Alicja Kwade. I love art that is interactive and given that the whole premise of the exhibition was to explore space in a different way, this piece did just that! I was very confused with my surroundings when walking around the various mirrors and frames. It made the viewer engage with the sculpture (no touching, of course) and invites you to wander around in order to get a different perspective. True masterpiece.

“Using double-sided mirrors and carefully placed, paired objects, the artist achieves the illusion of sudden and surprising material transformations”

The Famous

20:50 (1987) by Richard Wilson

Probably one of the most famous piece in the exhibition was the installation 20:50 (1987) by Richard Wilson. I had the pleasure of seeing this piece of work about a decade ago whilst on a school trip and the memory was just as vivid as I saw it again. You will smell the artwork before you see it as his installation uses engine oil to create an “infinite” black surface. This acts as a giant mirror and whilst walking down the narrow pathway to the middle of the piece, it completely distorted my senses. You feel submerged as if the sound has also been swallowed into the oil and you are all alone. Truely an experience!

“The surface of the dark, dense substance mirrors the space above it and creates for the viewer the vertiginous impression of being suspended within a curiously doubled and seemingly infinite environment.”

Tip: The installation is right at the end of the exhibition on the top floor of the gallery. I recommend once you enter the start of the exhibition to take the stairs on the right and climb all the way up to the top of the stairs. This will lead you directly to the queue for Richard Wilson’s piece.

It is (understandably) popular and the website states a wait can be up to 1.5hrs long at peak times. Even when I arrived at 11am on a Sunday morning (first slot of the day), the queue was already a 20-minute wait; so I recommend getting there early!

The others

Notable other pieces include:

Have you had a chance to visit? As always, I would love to hear your thoughts!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken

 

Art: Oceania

Hi Everyone,

I hope you all had a great weekend. I finally have visited an exhibition in London, I believe it has been several months since I visited a museum – so glad that I am back on it 🙂 Going to museums and galleries is my favourite activity, I find it therapeutic yet stimulating. This is one of my key recovery tasks. My boyfriend has always encouraged me to do what I love and always challenges whether I have thought about “life management” properly; do read his blog more on this concept.

People have often called me a sponge (or a nerd) because I just love soaking up new facts and learning about things. It often doesn’t matter on the subject matter either. I have started to recognise that this is one my core passions/values and will be a key focus in 2019.  I will touch upon this in a future post as I have been doing a lot to try and understand my “why“.

Image result for map of oceania

http://www.freeworldmaps.net/oceania/

Oceania

I asked some of my followers on Instagram which exhibition I should visit next for the blog and Oceania proved to be a favourite. Unfortunately, the 10 December (today) is the last day at the Royal Academy of Arts. However, I thought I would share with you some photos that I took from the exhibition and what I saw you are able to enjoy it through my eyes. The exhibition trailer is also awesome so do check it out because it showcases a few key pieces.

It was a truly amazing exhibition because I realised that I had no previous knowledge of Oceania history, culture, and art. I would give it 4.5/5 pineapples. It was a great introduction to the variety of rich and diverse cultures in that region. The exhibition has now encouraged me to read more on this part of the world. If anyone can recommend a good book, I would be grateful as my 1-minute search didn’t really come up with much.  I bought the Oceania book from the RA as it seems to be a good starting point. For those who also want to have a look, RA is currently having a sale on the book and the paperback version is only £13. [Not an ad – just really loved the exhibition]. I am also considering whether I should do a course on Anthropology because of it! What do you think?

The Economist’s 1843 magazine also wrote an in-depth review of the exhibition with greater detail on the artists and history, which is a great short read.

Hope you enjoy the photos! Did any of you manage to check it out?

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken

Lifestyle: RedTribe Beadwork

Hi Everyone,

How is everyone doing this week? Did you all enjoy a great weekend? I cannot believe that we are already in December – such a wonderful time of year. People tend to be a bit more festive in London and I think a chance to reflect on the year that has passed. It is also a time of giving.

This post is written about something that is close to my heart, as well as a chance to help my readers who looking for a thoughtful Christmas gift this period. For some of you who follow me on Instagram, might have known that I flew to Africa for the first time in early November. I landed in Nairobi, Kenya to visit a remote Maasai community. Working with a local charity – RedTribe, my colleagues and I have had an opportunity to support them on their school project. We were visiting to see how we can support them in the future and engage with the community.

I won’t be delving into the trip too much here as this post will go on for hours. However, I wanted to highlight the amazing work RedTribe Beadwork has done to empower marginalised women in the Maasai community. It is an incredible project with one widow and £10 worth of beads. The designs are created by Becca and are inspired by the Maasai. With the profits generated, it is able to provide a sustainable income for women and their families as well as pay the salary of a female teacher at the school.

Beadwork

I had an amazing opportunity to visit these incredible women and watch them work. Every individual had suffered adversity but have managed to survive and push through. It was such a humbling experience and it was so encouraging to know that these women have been given a chance to change their future in a sustainable way.

Personally, I love the designs of the jewellery. I have found them to be contemporary yet distinctive enough without the risk of cultural appropriation. I bought several earrings whilst I was there and I wear them every day! The tasseled ones are great for parties and a bit of glam!

For those are interested and want something a little different this Christmas, you can find the online shop here. Would love to hear your feedback!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken