Welcome to the first instalment of a series of blog posts going 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:
I began this series thinking about the link between love and hunger, two of our primal drives. I was still thinking about gardens as a pseudo natural space after having painted a small homage to Bosch in Tempting Fruit (2022), and I thought what more romantic garden image than Fragonard’s The Swing (1767)? The woman in that painting, the garden interloper’s object of desire, decked out in pink and lace and frills, reminded me of an extravagant cupcake, designed to evoke that ancient desire to consume – ate ;-).
My garden was based on Reader Rock Gardens Historic Park in the City of Calgary. It was an internationally renowned garden established by William Roland Reader, the Superintendent for Calgary Parks (1913 – 1942). During Reader’s life the garden had and trialed 3000 – 4000 plant species from around the world as well as Canada. Although declared a city park after his death, the garden languished for decades until an initiative in the mid 2000’s had it restored and reopened. Incredibly some of those early plants have survived and can still be seen in the park today.
It seems our drive to survive can carry us beyond all expectation. Our lives frequently follow the age old story of love, mating, procreating, protecting, providing and nurturing. In all of those stages we have evolved to guarantee the safety of our species, our mates and progeny, by putting up extra stores of energy to survive those times when we are neglected by the world and resources are slim.
When foods are engineered to be as appealing as possible, while every instinct we have encourages us to ‘put by’ a little extra, is it any wonder the dress maker’s tape has to go round further and further?
And so begins my journey through health and diet culture for the purposes of this series.