London Art Book Fair

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After many hours trundling the shops for something suitable to wear to the London Art Book Fair opening night yesterday, I finally settled on some very loud trousers, quirky sweatshirt, copper trainers and gold hoop earrings. I think I looked a bit like a rapper, which I decided was the obvious look to go for when promoting one’s first cookery book!

It started at 6pm so I gave myself plenty of time to get ready but I’d ordered the trainers online and spent most of the morning worrying that they wouldn’t arrive. Luckily they turned up in the middle of the afternoon leaving me just enough time to jump in the shower, half-heartedly pluck my eyebrows (tedious task) and have a bash at using a face mask. All was going swimmingly…until it wasn’t.

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First I washed off the face mask and whilst drying and straightening my hair I started finding clumps of clay still in my fringe and behind my ears from the mask – I managed to wash some of it out but by then didn’t have time to get rid of it all. Next, I knelt down to pick up my suitcase (needed to bring it to collect all my copies of the book) and my new trousers split at the seams. While Richard texted my chums to let them know I was running late I frantically hand stitched up my trousers. Now slightly fraught I noticed my hair had got itself in a right muddle; still half damp and sticking up at the sides where some of that stubborn face mask had lingered. I reached for my hairbrush and as I did so caught my thumbnail on a splinter of wood on the dining table which caused my thumb to bleed profusely for a few minutes. This was all going on whilst Richard was deep in conversation with a woman on the phone who was very keen to discuss the finer details of being miss-sold PPI. I wonder what she must have thought what with my yelps of “ouch” and “f@&k” in the background.

Right, deep breath, trousers fixed, bleeding stopped, and phone call ended we left the house for the launch party. We got half way down the road and I realised I’d forgotten the fabric pen I needed for signing the books. I walked briskly back to the house (couldn’t run in fear of splitting my trousers again) to pick up the pen. Pen located (and purse, which it seemed, I had also forgotten) I locked up and tried again. Half way down the street for the second time and thought I better check my phone to see if everyone was alright and hadn’t gotten lost…my phone…I’d forgotten my phone, back to the house…and so it went on. EVENTUALLY we got to Whitechapel Gallery and waited outside for a while…until we realised that everyone we knew was already inside looking at the book. You really couldn’t make this up. Thankfully we were greeted with free cold beers on arrival and the rest of the night was much much better. Helen arrived and gave me a fantastic key ring she had made to look like my book and my favourite stylist Rhodora approved of my clobber.

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Maria and Nina Vlotides from Pedestrian Publishing have done an amazing job on the design of the book and even helped make all of the covers by hand.

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Each book is ever so slightly different because the covers are made from tea towels hand screen printed by the lovely people in Otto’s team at Marshfield Print Studio and then they have all been lovingly stitched together and ironed.

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Because they’re handmade this is a limited edition run of 300 so if you can’t get to the book fair this weekend keep your eyes peeled for the Facebook announcements for when they’re listed on the online shop so you don’t miss out. Ooh and if you’re any where near Hampshire on the 22nd of September head over to the Whitchurch Country Fair, I’ll be there selling/signing books and am honoured to have been asked to judge the entries in the baking competition! Cannot wait! All the details for the event are here, do say hello!

Even though I split my trousers, cut my thumb, had terrible hair with clay in it and arrived so late that most people I know had read my book before I’d even seen it for the first time, I had a brilliant evening. It has taken three years of recipe experiments and copious notes and scribbles to get to this point and I couldn’t be happier. Thanks so much to all of you who read this blog and I hope you enjoy “Cooking Without a Kitchen” too.
Xxx

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My book can be found on the Pedestrian Publishing stand at the London Art Book Fair all this weekend. As well as my book they’ll be selling “Pavement Poetry” by Maria Vlotides and “Pharmapoetica” by Chris McCabe and Maria Vlotides, both amazing books. Also don’t forget to say hello to Otto Dettmer from Marshfield print studio as he’s selling his own work at the book fair and it’s lovely stuff.

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When Jack came to stay.

Jack is my sister-in-law’s brother…or my brother’s brother-in-law . . . surely there has to be a shorter way of saying this.

Anyway, Jack has been asking for my help to prepare for his new university course in digital games design. His background is in engineering which, excitingly, means all his digital designs of trains and cars would actually work if made in real life. The other students on the course are likely to have come from art courses and Jack wanted to hang out with me and try and get up to speed on arty fartiness! I found a timeline of art history, selected some examples of key pieces I like and why, and came up with this analogy to help him evaluate works of art.

“Lashings of Orange Juice & Lemonade”

The best thing I could come up with was “orange juice and lemonade”. Normally this is a mocktail, perhaps chosen by designated drivers down the pub or anyone in need of a quick thirst-quenching sugary hit.

I use it to explain art (I promise there is method to this madness):

  • The orange juice represents the conceptual integrity of the work, the idea, story or message that the artist wishes to communicate with the viewer.
  • The lemonade is representative of the aesthetic quality or the level of technical skill required to produce the work.

And finally:

  • The glass in which these liquids are poured is my perception of the piece.

For example; I feel that a painting like John by Chuck Close would be a full glass of lemonade – this is because of the incredible photorealistic quality requiring enormous technical skill. Fountain by Marcel Duchamp is a urinal (which he didn’t make himself, basically he just chose it to exhibit to challenge the art world). In its historical context this is a brilliant and humorous thing; a big glass of orange juice for me! Another of my favourite paintings is Empire of Light by RenĂ© Magritte. In my opinion this is a large glass of both orange juice and lemonade in equal quantities. Check it out if you haven’t see it before.

I use this analogy because it reminds me to split my evaluation into an analysis of the concept and of the aesthetic quality. Also, it’s a little less risky to go around a small gallery whispering to your friend “barely a drop of orange juice in this one, no lemonade either” rather than “that’s a rubbish painting, the message it is trying to convey is weak and it’s not very well drawn”.

We spent the rest of the day loading up on coffee and creativity. We discussed conceptual art in the Tate Modern, grabbed a quick lunch from the stalls at Borough Market and then went sketching in the V&A. We arrived home with sensory and caffeine overloads and completely drenched from a downpour.

After a quick change I took a look in the kitchen cupboard to see what I could do for dinner. We were due at a party that evening; a fundraiser for the production of As You Like It which my boyfriend Richard is currently performing in – catch it quick before it ends on the 19th of May!

The party was 1920s fancy dress and aptly named Jazz You Like It! Knowing there would likely be a number of cocktails (and we all still needed time to get dressed up) a speedy-stomach lining meal was required. Manwiches seemed the only answer!

Manwiches

  1. Roast a selection of your favourite root veggies, garlic and onions in olive oil or cold pressed rapeseed oil.
  2. Toast some thick slices of bread and spread both sides with hummus (store bought is fine)
  3. Pile in the roast vegetables, sprinkle with zahtar mix and some crumbled feta and form the sandwich with the other slice of toasted bread.

Scrummy! If you are about to go out on the tiles I suggest you scoff these before you get your glad rags on- they’re mighty messy!

The party was brilliant, there was a raffle and Jack won an hour of personal martial arts and fitness training! We donated a dinner party for 4 which we shall be cooking in the winner’s house…a blog post for another day I predict.

Happy cooking!