We are all fridge artists

October 16, 2006

Our fridge

The aesthetics of refridgeration deserves more attention than it currently gets. Has any budding art historian written a thesis yet on the visual culture of vegetable arrangement? Probably, but as yet there hasn’t been a major exhibition in, say, the Met or the V&A dedicated to this branch of the decorative arts.

It’s a democratic art form. We are all, in our own humble ways, fridge artists. It is also an ephemeral form, and is often produced collaboratively. This morning, for instance, Maths chick carefully cleaned the interior of our upright fridge-freezer, while I trimmed this week’s fruit and veg, preparing them for display, like a painter mixing his pigments.

To me, it’s all about balance, harmony, light and shade. It is about the surprising play of the fridge light across the glistening skin of the mango, thrown into relief by the deep shadows of the cheese tray.

A range of containers help give structure to this modern-day still life. Pears are piled high on deep white bowls (Habitat seconds), onions huddle together in their net. Plastic bags symbolise the plasticity of modern consumer culture.

The classical approach is to combine vegetable matter with a fine joint of lamb, a rustic hunk of cheese, a bright-eyed whole mackerel (no flacid fillets, please). It can be effective to include a bottle of Heinz ketchup as a knowing reference to Warhol’s pop art masterpieces. A wedge of rotting melon encourages the viewer to ponder the big themes of mortality and death.

I think it’s high time fridge art was recognised as one of the 21st century’s most vibrant visual cultures. Who’s with me on this one?

12 Responses to “We are all fridge artists”

  1. oldbirdofdevon Says:

    Whatever it is you do for a living, you’re wasted. Someone give this man a column!

  2. Kinson Says:

    Unfortunately, for most people in the UK, the fridge is full of processed meat and cheese, readymeals and beer.


  3. …and opened but unfinished jars of pesto, bought mayonnaise, various sauces, stale egg whites, half a mouldy lemon on a saucer, bottles of tonic, coke, and in our house – gin.
    But do none of us buy milk or butter?
    It seems that the fridge is never big enough for all the foodstuffs that jossle to get inside; so the decision of which get in is more random than artistic – or is that the Jackson Pollack school?

  4. gastropunk Says:

    oldbirdofdevon, bless you, you’ve made my day 🙂

  5. gastropunk Says:

    kinson, you’re right, and it’s a crying shame. have to say though, occasionally a tub of Dairy Lea sneaks it’s way into our cheese tray. can’t help it, it’s a lifetime addiction.
    i’ve seen the inside of your fridge and, as i remember, its a very well-balanced, harmonious composition.

  6. gastropunk Says:

    spinning_jeni, i think randomness and contingency are key to the fridge art aesthetic. a perfectly manicured fridge is a sterile and disturbing thing – a stepford fridge. however, if my fridge started looking like a jackson pollock, i’d start to think about having a bit of a clear out.

  7. newforestgrrl Says:

    Funnily enough, there was an art exhibition at the Southampton City Gallery back in 2000 which consisted largely of photographs of the insides of fridges… see http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/31/2/333

  8. gastropunk Says:

    newforrestgrrl, thanks for the link. you can tell how fascinated people are with the inside of other people’s fridges from the number of flickr groups devoted to them…

    here’s a bizarre one dedicated to self-portraits taken from inside fridges…

  9. crzy_rgntnn Says:

    I think the fridge reflects the state of one’s soul. In fact, the fridge is the heart and the vegs represent the feelings. I think your feelings are a bit cluttered, Toaster… How about getting another fridge, to have them more comfortable?
    (You do worry me, Toaster. Just remember, we are all here to help you out)

  10. Thank you Gastropunk for reminding me that I’ve lost my copy of Sally Swain’s ‘Great Housewives of Art’. Actually I cut it up and had some of the prints framed – sorry booklovers I really did. You’ve sent me on a quest to replace it and I found several copies on http://www.adebooks.co.uk. I’m not sure that there’s any mention of fridges but Mrs Beardsley Won’t Go to That Butcher Again’

  11. Sorry – That should read http://www.abebooks.co.uk – apologies also for my erratic punctuation.

  12. gastropunk Says:

    spinning_jeni, i’ve never heard of this book. i shall look out for it next time i’m ferreting around in dark corners of musty secondhand bookshops…

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