Saturday, March 6, 2010

Carl Warner's Foodscapes: Nature's Beauty in Yummy Miniature

"So, you see, there was this grape juice river in the woods, with berries swimming in it, and ice cream ALL around! The trees, the bushes, the rocks! And chocolate mountains in the distance! Sooooo yummy..."

This will probably sound less like the dreams of a desperate dieter when you are introduced to the work of the British photographer Carl Warner, who takes the label "food connoisseur" to a whole new level. Rather than ransacking random markets for exotic ingredients or footing four-digit bills at world-renowned restaurants, he literally turns fresh produce into works of art, creating stunningly lifelike landscapes meant to promote healthy eating.

His food landscapes, also known as "foodscapes", feature ingenious combinations of fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, cheeses, cold cuts, bread and sweets. They are painstakingly stacked, sprinkled, tucked and arranged to form dazzling images of huddled mountain huts, stormy seas, colorful countryside, even urban skylines.

In the picture you see here, the sea is salmon fillets, the boat - a pea pod, the dark rocks - brown bread, the seaweed-covered light rocks - potatoes and parsley. The overhanging seaside foliage is a bunch of dill. You can even eat the sky: it's the strongly lit side of a salmon.

To achieve such mind-blowing likeness, Warner spends a lot of time simply staring at foods and contemplating their resemblance to larger objects: broccoli and trees, parmesan lumps and rocks, mushrooms and wheels...

Most of a foodscape's production time is spent planning and choosing ingredients, while photo shoots are comparatively short. When using fresh produce, the production team makes each layer of the foodscape separately to avoid having wilted food by the time they have finished constructing an entire foodscape. Sadly, most of the food is inedible after being glued and pinned to a working board, but all leftovers are either donated or shared between team members.

Carl Warner always uses organic, sustainable produce for his food masterpieces, and tries to include only wholesome foods to raise awareness of healthy eating - although, he admits, so far he has not managed to convince his teenage kids to eat more veggies. He has been involved in the marketing campaigns of several food and drink companies, where he features highlights of his delicious still life works: fruity hot air baloons, breadstick houses and crunchy windmills. A Good Food Channel commission is responsible for his latest achievement - an edible London skyline featuring the most popular sights of the city.

You can enjoy all of Warner's foodscapes on his website, where it is also possible to order prints of various sizes. For some insider information, hear him talk about his work in these videos. And for those of you who already adore his work, the hardcover compilation "Carl Warner's Food Landscapes" is going to be released in October this year by Abrams Image.

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