Tate Britain to host Edible Artwork by Bobby Baker

Sunday, October 29, 2023
Tate Britain to host Edible Artwork by Bobby Baker

From 8 November 2023, Tate Britain will present a restaging of a major feminist artwork which has not been seen for almost 50 years: Bobby Baker's radical sculptural installation An Edible Family in a Mobile Home. The installation accompanies Tate Britain’s autumn exhibition exploring art and activism in the 1970s and 80s, Women in Revolt!, which opens on the same day.

Originally staged in 1976, a replica of Baker’s prefabricated East London house will be sited outside Tate Britain on the South Lawn. The installation will contain five life-size sculptures of family members made from cake, biscuits and meringues, which will be steadily eaten by the public. Visitors to Tate Britain will be invited into the house to sample these edible sculptures and talk to hosts - trained by Baker herself. This installation is made possible thanks to public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

The installation coincides with Tate Britain’s major new exhibition Women in Revolt! Art and Activism in the UK 1970-1990. The exhibition features over 100 women artists, celebrates their often-unsung contribution to British culture and will include photographs of Baker’s original sculptural installation from 1976. The restaged Edible Family will be free to visit and open to the public for the first four weeks of the exhibition (8 November – 3 December 2023) and again for the final four weeks of the exhibition (8 March – 7 April 2024).

Baker originally staged her installation over the course of a week in 1976 in her prefab Acme house in Stepney, East London. Visitors ate pieces of her cake ‘family’ and Baker served cups of tea, performing the role of polite female host. The family members occupied various rooms in Baker’s home, whose walls were plastered in newspaper cuttings and decorated with icing, scenting the air with sugar. In the living room, a father made of fruit cake slumped in an armchair surrounded by tabloid newspapers; in the bath, a teenage son made of garibaldi biscuits lay in chocolate cake bathwater against a background of comics; and in the kitchen, a mother constructed from a dressmaker’s mannequin with a teapot for a head offered a constant supply of fairy cakes, sandwiches and fruit from compartments in her hollow abdomen. Baker baked, sculpted and decorated each of these family members herself over the course of a month.

The house outside Tate Britain will be a replica of the original work, with several elements updated by the artist. Alongside the refurbished original dressmaker’s dummy mother, the figures of a daughter, son, husband, and baby will be formed of garibaldi biscuits, meringue, and various flavours of cake (including a vegan option) baked by Lily Vanilli and assembled by Baker and her team. Following a period of research with UCL’s Institute of Making - a multidisciplinary research club for students and staff - Baker has developed specialist icing to decorate the walls of the house, while the building’s structure will be slightly adapted to improve accessibility. The hosts, especially trained by Baker to serve cake and pour tea, will include BA Fine Art students from nearby Chelsea College of Arts, part of University of the Arts London (UAL), and young women recruited through race and class inclusion charity You Make It.

Main Image : Documentation of preparation for An Edible Family in a Mobile Home by Bobby Baker, 1976. Photo: Andrew Whittuck

Stephanie Cime

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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