Those things we hold dear

Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things. – Cicero

Food writer Fiona Smith’s grandmother’s crochet collection made it out of the back of the cupboard for this pie feature in Cuisine, and was used to create the black and white backgrounds that I styled, photographed and printed to scale so the food could be placed in real space. This created another layer to the final images; the past providing the backdrop to the present. The taste, smell, and texture of food can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back memories not just the food itself, but also of place and setting. 

Underpinning the recipe features with a narrative is an obvious direction as food is at the centre of our lives and our well-being. It is infused in our culture, our history, our economy, our family and environment. 

The idea for this came from helping my father clean out his house to sell and I decided to document meaningful objects – objects that remind me so much of his life at home. These images eventually became a series of postcards published with back_space_books and debuted at 2019 Photobook NZ Fair in Wellington. I also took this idea into Cuisine, producing a small feature detailing the magazine’s contributors’ beloved hand-me-down kitchen objects that spoke of their family’s past and carry their stories.  

THE BACK STORY Engagement with the story-telling of objects is longstanding. MoMa Gallery in New York has exhibited domestic items for years, beginning with a show in 1938, Useful Household Objects Under $5.00. And a more recent show The Keeper at The New Museum in 2016 examined the art of preserving objects, images and artworks. 

‘It is in the living room shielded by sofa cushions and huddled behind a ranked army of bric-a-brac that the individual searches for a safe haven from the shock of modern urban life. It is in the phantasmagoria of the interior that objects appear deprived of their immediate usefulness and acquire new meanings and functions, as they are cast in a system of personal associations and elective affinities. What talismans shroud our dwelling places.’ – Massimiliano Gioni, The Keeper, 2016

FURTHER READING The Room: The Edit by Emma King.

Concept, styling & art direction / Fiona Lascelles
Black and white photographs / Fiona Lascelles
Food photography / Aaron McLean
Food styling & recipes / Fiona Smith
Published / Cuisine Magazine
Postcards / back_space_books

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