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Tate Britain to present a restaging of major feminist artwork, Bobby Baker's 'An Edible Family in a Mobile Home' - FAD Magazine

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Tate Britain to present a restaging of major feminist artwork, Bobby Baker’s ‘An Edible Family in a Mobile Home’

Press photo of An Edible Family in a Mobile Home by Bobby Baker, 1976, for the Stratford Express

From 8th 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 1970-1990The 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).

Bobby Baker, An Edible Family in a Mobile Home, 1976. Documented by Andrew Whittuck

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, specially 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.

After its run at Tate Britain, Baker and her production company Daily Life Limited will take An Edible Family in a Mobile Home across the UK. The tour will end with a final presentation with Idle Women, an artist-led social justice collaboration based in Lancashire which creates transformative spaces with women. The prefab will be permanently gifted to Idle Women who will repurpose the structure to ensure it has a long and valuable life beyond the exhibition.  

Women in Revolt! at Tate Britain 8th November 2023 – 7th April 2024, tate.org.uk

About the artist

Portrait of Bobby Baker at Tate Britain, 2023. Photographed by Hugo Glendinning.

Bobby Baker’s acclaimed intersectional feminist practice includes performance, drawing and installation, and persistently exposes the undervalued and stigmatised aspects of women’s daily lives, exemplified by pioneering works such as Drawing on a Mother’s Experience (1988), and Kitchen Show (1991)

Born in 1950 in Kent, UK, she graduated from Painting at St. Martins School of Art (1972, now Central Saint Martins) and holds an Honorary Doctorate from Queen Mary University London.

Performances and installations include Great & Tiny War, Newcastle (2018); An Edible Family in a Mobile Home (1976), London; Drawing on a (Grand) Mother’s Experience, WOW-Women of the World Festival, London (2015); Kitchen Show (1991), London, Adelaide Festival and touring; How to Live, Barbican Centre, London (2004); Table Occasions 9–15, Münchner Künstlerhaus, Munich (1998); How to Shop, Chicago International Festival of Arts (1996); Cook Dems, Harbour Front Centre, Toronto (1992); and Box Story, Arnolfini, Bristol (2001). Selected solo exhibitions include Tarros de Chutney, La Casa Encendida, Madrid (2019); Art Supermarket and Perpetuity in Icing, ICA, London (1978); and Diary Drawings: ‘Mental Illness’ and Me 1997–2008, Wellcome Collection, London (touring exhibition) (2009).

Forthcoming projects include EPIC DOMESTIC at The Tetley, Leeds as part of Leeds 2023 Year of Culture (12–17 December 2023); and participation in the Hayward Touring exhibition On Art and Motherhood, curated by Hettie Judah for Arnolfini, Bristol (9 March–2 June 2024), touring to MAC, Birmingham (26 June–6 October 2024); Millennium Gallery, Sheffield (24 October 2024–21 January 2025) and a further venue in 2025.

About Daily Life Ltd. 

Presented by Daily Life Ltd. in partnership with Tate, Whitworth and Idle Women.

Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. The National Lottery raises £30 million for good causes every week thanks to National Lottery players.

Established in 1995, and led by founder and artist, Bobby Baker, Daily Life Ltd. makes art that explores and celebrates everyday life and human behaviour.

Their work is rooted in Baker’s vision and art practice and their collaborators include like-minded artists and organisations across the arts, health, and disability sectors.

Their mission is to lead advocacy for change in the way people think about women, and the undervalued and stigmatised aspects of daily life. This includes celebrating age and experience, and tackling misogyny and injustice in the mental health system. They believe great art can change the way people think. As the activist, scholar and author Angela Davis has said: ‘Art is not a luxury … We need art to illuminate the way to a different future’ (WOW Global 24, 2020).

Their work falls broadly into three areas:

  • Producing new artwork by Bobby Baker across all media including performance, drawing, film, installation, radio, painting, and digital;
  • Curatorial projects, touring, and archiving of Baker’s extensive collection of work;
  • Collaborative projects that work with and support the talent of marginalised creative practitioners. This ranges from mentoring and peer networking to talks and workshops.

Daily Life Ltd. is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.

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