By Virginia Villari
If you’re in London or planning a visit this March, I have something very special to recommend you. A must-do for art lovers and foodies alike. A treat for both your eyes and palate. An artistic and culinary fusion with an innovative take on recycling.
Curious? Follow me.
Let’s take a walk in Shoreditch, London’s trendy East end. Nestled on the charming Rivington St. is Tramshed, one of entrepreneur and chef Mark Hix’s concept restaurants, also home of Hix Art Gallery. The 1000 sq. ft. former electric station had been designed to delight your senses through creative fine dining, impressive art installations and themed food experiences.
Hix used to mingle with the YBAs and became one hungry collector of their work, on display within his restaurants. At Tramshed, Damien Hirst’s famous Cock ‘n’ Bull towers above the tables in the center of the space.
With her sparkling original style Witter is a Londoner to the bone. A Central Saint Martin’s graduate and former member of the food artist duo Beast and Burden, she is the first artist chosen for the Gallery’s new artist residency program. And you’ll see why.
Witter’s multidisciplinary art practice is rooted in challenging mainstream standards of beauty. Her production moves across sculpture, set design and photography, exploring the aesthetic qualities of organic materials and processes.
Her favorites are bones. Animal bones of various kinds that she often saves from her own food and that she meticulously cleans and categorizes, seeking to investigate ways in which art can operate sustainably.
The results are exquisite! Ethereal, delicate floral and coral-like formations that stand at the verge of sculpture and design and suggest a potential role of visual art in the politics of food.
Since January Witter has taken over Hix Art and has been recycling the restaurant’s meat waste by turning it into beautiful sculptural pieces.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for me because the location is so conducive to my productivity.” Witter says. “Being a meat restaurant, I have bountiful amounts of bones available from the kitchen, and I’m fortunate enough to have the use of Mark’s separate kitchen library to prep them. In the evenings I boil and scrub all the bones clean, and leave them overnight in bleach. Then in the day, I’m working down in the gallery creating the sculptures with him. As the menu changes slightly, I’m receiving different bones, which is a lovely natural guideline to works I’m then making. Like receiving different ingredients,” tells Witter.
As she completes the sculptures, they are going up above the bar in the restaurant for customers to have a taste of the final showcase.
Bloom will launch on March 27th and will present the collection Witter created over three months: a variety of sized sculpture, still life prints and a moving image piece produced by Curious Productions.
The show seeks to raise the public’s awareness on the amount of waste that is overlooked and to encourage people to accept bones as an art medium in its own right. “I get a very mixed bag of reactions when people see that I am working with bone, some is quite animated horror! Haha…” Witter recalls. “The floral shapes that I’m obsessing with are a result of me insisting on the harmless beauty of them. I want them to feel absolutely natural, weightless, elegant.”
Bloom represents an art contribution to the wider conversation of the “nose-to-tail” dining movement in London, which proposes possible solutions to the wastage problem in the food industry. “I would be proud if my work gave a nod to that, and I would certainly like to develop this idea of using an industry byproduct as artistic material.” Witter muses. “I would love to start creating my own plaster out of bone dust (which I am collecting) and also bone chalks, or mixing them with natural wax mediums etc. Bones can be used for all sorts of products, like soaps, glues, gelatins, fertilizers, charcoal, English soft porcelain (bone china), even a lot of photographic equipment, and I would love the opportunity to create my own by recycling bones.”
With Bloom, Hix and Witter found the recipe to creatively raise consciousness of waste excess, by transforming materials destined to become garbage into long-lasting objects of beauty.
Would you like to be part of this unique multi-sensorial cultural experience? Do you want to eat at one of the best and coolest meat restaurants in London and discover a next level talent of the London art scene?
Join our mailing list and you’ll be automatically added to the guest list for Bloom opening night on March 27th at Hix Art Gallery/Tramshed Restaurant. Don’t miss out!