An artist, a baker, an architect, choreographer, dinner host, scientist, designer, child playing with their food – these are all descriptions that seem applicable to Elizabeth Willing in her on-going examination of gastronomy, the rituals of consumption and the aesthetic qualities of food. At once methodical and whimsical in her manipulation of the structural possibilities and limitations of food, Willing entices her audience (or dinner guests) to engage in a range of sensual experiences that often preferences touch, taste and smell, over vision.
Since 2013 Willing’s practice has included a series of dessert degustations to which she invites selected guests to share in a range of multi sensory experiments or ‘courses.’ These courses deconstruct and expand both the physical materiality and architecture of Willing’s chosen ingredients as well as the customs, expectations and often anxieties of eating in shared contexts.
A significant aspect of the ‘Dessert’ series are Willing’s dinnerware and utensils, specifically designed to heighten the eaters sensorial and emotional responses. Willing’s ‘Mouth Cups’, spherical drinking vessels with lip-shaped openings require the drinker to negotiate a complex movement of kissing, sucking and slurping to access the sake-cocktail contained. ‘Tipping Plate’ designed to hold petits fours arranged to achieve balance playfully visualises the concern one may experience when engaging in the custom of sharing – questioning if one is eating too much or too quickly as the plate starts to tip back and forth. It is these objects that are the focus of ‘With the Table in Mind’. Removed from their original functional context, the exhibition allows for these objects to be considered for their own sculptural qualities, revealing Willing’s refined, delicate and humorous design sensibility.
Image: Tuning Fork, Fork (2015)