Graphic designer and illustrator, David Meldrum, has spent the last year documenting every single thing he’s eaten. This September he’ll be at the food festival bearing the fruits of his labour, ready and willing to tell us how and why on earth he did such a thing.
It’s one thing watching what you eat, quite another drawing it. But that’s what David Meldrum did. For 365 days. Yet David’s not some manic nutritionist (is no Gillian Mckeith thank god), David is an artist and his 365 paintings make up The Food Illustrator Project, currently on show at the Arch 402 Gallery in Hoxton, London.
One year ago David decided to document what he ate, and in doing so embarked on a culinary journey that would take in acrylic, collage, watercolour, pen and ink – oh and 122 Freddo bars, 34 packets of Tyrrells crisps, 15 fried breakfasts (which I think is rather few), 1,350 cups of coffee, 91 bowls of porridge, and 18 Tunnocks caramel wafers.
Which all begs the question, why? According to David food – and the way it is presented through advertising, signage and packaging – has always fascinated him. He’s a bit of a hoarder too, “I love collecting things,” he tells me emphatically.
Which is just as well, because David’s penchant for collecting has created an intriguing and intimate picture diary – one he describes as “a mix of humour and modern day living, lifestyle and trends.” A diary that “faithfully documents” what he ate.
“I didn’t change my eating habits, I wanted this project to be a real, honest snapshot. I didn’t want to get three months into it and think ‘oh god I have a really unhealthy appetite, I’ll eat spinach and lentils for a year’, I turned a blind eye to it, I never saw it in its entirety…”
But David is an illustrator after all and not immune to the allure of good aesthetics, “on occasion I would select particular packaging or particular choices from a menu because I knew they would be better to draw, so things like curry I wouldn’t choose, instead I’d choose a salad.”
And what, if anything, did he learn from the experience? “I’ve learnt a lot really. In real life I’m a very undisciplined, chaotic person so this has really pinned me down and made me have that self-discipline – and there’s a massive sense of reward that I finished it.
“And from an aesthetic point of view it’s really interesting to look back at.”
Want to know more? David will be speaking at the Angel Hotel in September, watch this space for more details coming soon…
Bex Hobson is Blogger-at-Large for the Abergavenny Food Festival