Welcome to the ninth instalment of a series of blog posts going more in-depth into the thoughts and ideas behind each of the paintings in the Earthly Delights series. The series is based on my experience navigating health and diet culture as a long term participant. You can read the full background by following the link to that blog post below:
We make our marks in the world trudging through the deep snow. We expend energy keeping warm and keeping moving in our winter playground. What could be better than a hearty hot beef vegetable stew, or a lasagna, or poutine? Warm buttered biscuits, hot chocolate topped with thick whipped cream, fresh from the oven apple crisp with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream? The idea of hot, calorie dense comforting food becomes irresistible the longer we go before taking refuge and repast. Soon no tempting recreation will be able to distract.
I was thinking about the warring forces of self-preservation and will-power within each of us when I placed this hearty banquet in a winter play ground on a merry-go-round. While we may think we have body fat to burn and our best interests at heart – resisting the draw of food to attain/maintain what we believe are healthy weight goals – the fact that we are inordinately drawn to images of food indicates that our body thinks otherwise and has activated its natural self-preservation mechanisms. It is only a matter of time, exposure and repetition before the forces of nature prevail over force of will, particularly when self preservation is on the side of nature. Each time that merry-go-round brings that plate of food past you, the magnifying effects of the cold, physical exhaustion and your own emptying stomach will seemingly push that food off the merry-go-round and toward you. Force of will vs. force of nature, which will win?
Placing the banquet in that winter landscape for me is a wake up call. Even if one does win a war of wills with nature, what does one win in this environment? Exhaustion? Frostbite, Hypothermia? When one’s body suggests visions of feasts, one should listen. The world can wait until one is rested and replenished.