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This article was written on 27 Feb 2015, and is filled under Art, Design, Food and Drink, Museums and Galleries.

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Tasha Marks: Food artist and founder of AVM Curiosities

Tasha-Marks

Tasha Marks is a food artist, and founder of AVM (Animal, Vegetable, Mineral) Curiosities. She explores the relationship between art and food through edible events and installations, using food as an artistic medium. Previous clients include The Royal Academy of Arts, the V&A , the National Trust, Wedgwood, The London Festival of Architecture and Selfridges, to name just a few. AVM Curiosities were also named Selfridges Bright Young Thing 2013 and Young British Foodie 2013 – Experiential Finalist.

Whether she’s combining sugar sculpture and traditional Turkish carpentry or researching the pre-history of cocktails, Tasha’s day to day work is full of flavour – here she talks us through the (sugar) highs and lows.

OM: Can you describe an average day at work?

TM: Every day is different; I could be researching rum at the Museum of London Docklands, shopping for unusual ingredients, or meeting with the inventor of popping candy! I work from home half the week, where my day is a little more structured – I get up about 7 and take myself out for a coffee, cycle or walk. It’s a good way to wake up and get in the right frame of mind for the working day (plus it gets me out of my pajamas!).

The rest of the morning is spent in my office at home; replying to emails, researching new projects, speaking with collaborators and new clients, editing my website and updating my social media platforms. Lunch is at about 2 and I’ll make something simple so I don’t mess up the kitchen as the afternoon is often spent trying out historical recipes or photographing things I’ve made.

I try to finish work at 5pm, but if I’m on a roll then I’ll often carry on until midnight. I also carry a notebook with me so I can write ideas down all the time. Such is the life of a freelancer!

OM: Have you always wanted to be a food artist?

TM: My background is in Art History so I had always wanted to work with museums and galleries.

I discovered food history in my final year at university and realised that the democratic nature of food was a perfect pairing with the gallery setting, it breaks down barriers and is a unique sensory way of storytelling.

From that moment I knew that I wanted a career that combined food, art and history, and starting my practice, AVM Curiosities, was the best way to explore all these different avenues.

OM: What was the hardest part about becoming a food artist?

TM: I think bridging two worlds is always difficult, it means there are extra hoops to jump through and not always as much support. The food side of my practice means I have to have full health and safety training, catering insurance, and fill in a lot of extra paperwork! The art side of my practice is in a really good place at the moment but it was difficult to position myself at the start. I made a point of defining myself as an artist who works with food, rather than a chef who presents their work as art, and this meant while my feet were firmly in the art world I didn’t have the same support network and exhibition possibilities as perhaps a painter or sculptor. Three years later and I have been privileged to work with institutions including the Royal Academy of Art, The Victoria & Albert Museum and The National Trust, so it was worth treating it like a marathon and not a sprint, placing food art as a movement and not just a trend.

OM: And what’s the best part of the job?

TM: There are so many things that make me love my job I couldn’t choose just one. I love the variety, the challenges, the creativity and the people I meet. Every day is different, every project makes me learn something new or meet someone I wouldn’t have met otherwise; from being introduced to a rosewater expert in Istanbul, to discovering a 19th century recipe for cucumber ice-cream, I love that I’ll always be surprised by what’s just round the corner.

OM: Do you feel you’re treated differently in your industry because you’re a woman?

TM: I don’t feel I’m treated any differently in my industry because I’m a woman, but I know others who have not had the same experience in their interactions, particularly in professional kitchens. It’s also a massive advantage that I’ve always had strong female and male role models in my professional life, which means I never had any gender specific outlooks or expectations.

OM: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given? And what other advice would you give to anyone looking to become a food artist? What qualifications and experience do you need?

TM:

When I was at university my Dad said to me; ‘the job you’ll have, you don’t even know exists yet’ – there’s a whole world of careers out there and I know it sounds clichéd but do what you love and it will lead you to where you want to be.

There’s also no need to follow the path expected of you, an unusual path will give you unique skills: in terms of qualifications for my job, I have an Art History degree and a professional chocolatiers qualification, but neither of those are essential, just remember to always keep an open mind, keep questioning, keep learning and work hard.

OM: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made in the workplace or in your career?

TM: There haven’t been any huge mistakes so far, but there have been some memorable ones – such as accidentally using a 2000-year-old bowl to serve popcorn at an event in a museum! But like all mistakes I’ve learnt from them, I won’t be making them again and they’ve made me the person I am.

OM: What does success mean to you?

TM: Success means happiness, freedom and good food.

OM: What’s your feminist wish for the future?

TM: That people are judged by their actions and ideas, rather than their gender or sexuality.

 

Tweet Tasha here.

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