Jodi: How do you think cooking and art are similar?
Frances: Good Question!
They are surprising similar.... my version of a good cook is someone who can create something out of nothing, substitute ingredients if they don't have something in their pantry or a cook who is inventive and creative when it comes to planning a meal.
My art making process is very similar, I recently had an exhibition at Sydneys' First Draft Gallery, the title of the show was Nothing but Something, the accompanying essay was a discussion around the idea of Gleaning, which is traditionally a food / left over crop gathering activity. Currently I am making large paintings of puddings, this is a direct response to publishing a book about food, I am having heaps of fun painting images of large milky puddings such as Blancmange and Junket, I am just planning a painting based on a 1950's dessert called Raspberry fool.
I don't normally make images of food! Although often my work is concerned with the domestic, my most recent exhibition at Snowwhite, a gallery here in Auckland , was entitled Home & Contents. The work included paintings, embroidery on face cloths, found headboards and a grid of stretched nets and aprons, probably a little difficult to visualise, but the work was a celebration of the DIY mentality, something Kiwis excell at.
Jodi: As a mum of two children, how important is cooking in your home?
Frances: Well, I cook dinner most nights!
I have a very productive vegetable garden so that is the challenge for me, whatever is happening in the garden determines what is on the table. We have a new crop of rhubarb, so I'm cooking with that right now, stewed with homemade muesli. Having younger children has been limiting in terms of cooking, not when it comes to creating birthday cakes, but more the typical dinner, as I work full time, I get lazy and make kid food, although I enjoy the challenge of ramping this up into more exciting adult type food with the addition of a few ingredients, secret herbs and spices....
Jodi: Keepsakes has pride of place on my kitchen table at the moment and it seems to easily attract the eyes of neighbours and visitors. How does it feel to have such a personal scrapbook of history and creativity on the kitchen tables of strangers?
Frances: The original version was way more scrappy, rough and personal, particularly with family photographs, so a certain amount of editing went on when I made the new version. Having said that my publisher made the decision to not edit the pages at all so the book has all these spelling mistakes and other grammatical errors, which would be present in the average persons scrapbook of recipes, (at least I like to think this is the case). My favourite mistake is where have written Golden Sydney instead of Golden Syrup, I think I was about 17 when I wrote that one out and had just moved there.
Overall I feel really happy with Keepsakes, my family and friends who contributed are all delighted to be part of it, it was a pleasure to make, one of those moments where everything works out effortlessly. I actually felt sad when I realised I had completed the last page. It is a little strange to see your personal keepsakes published, but I do think many people have similar family keepsakes of their own and can relate to the material easily.
Jodi: What are your hopes for Keepsakes?
That it inspires others to make their own. I inhertited my godmother's recipe book and it is much more than just a recipe book to me, it speaks so strongly of her personality, and brings back fond memories of her. It was so special to make pages centred around her and her recipes.
Jodi: Any plans for another book?