Food for Thought

14 April - by Lynda Grace

Words by Lynda Grace

Food for Thought is the fourth art exhibition that Mrs Harris’ Shop has been involved with during Tasting Australia and it is probably the most provocative.

Each year it has presented a different theme from a group of mostly local artists, having covered food places, food people and products. 

This year’s exhibition, by The Bittondi Print Makers (a non-profit community based visual arts organisation) has the theme Food for Thought, after shop proprietor Jo Harris suggested they might like to consider food with soul, rather than just pretty food.

The resulting exhibition reflects the artists’ exploration of this theme. 

The variety of styles is striking. It includes the very traditional copperplate etching method used by Mei Sheong Wong, who comments on contradictory messages in advertising that affect impressionable children. 

There is also a folding book presentation with a twist about digestion by Beth Evans. 

Other artists have used their prints to comment on society’s obsession with diet, or comment about food shows on television.

The largest, and to me, most provocative work was a pair of prints titled “Taken” and Slaughtered” by Mary Moore. 

It comments on the removal of young calves from their mothers at a very tender age, which is an area of the dairy industry that has come under increasing scrutiny. 

It reflects growing interest in what has become known as ethical milk within the dairy industry, where calves stay with their mothers.

Mrs Harris’ Shop began life as a general store in 1932, built by Dorothy Harris. 

The proprietor has always been a woman from the Harris family. 

Dorothy’s daughter-in-law, Rae took over in 1958 but had to close down for some years in the 1970s, a common fate for suburban shops at that time, but Rae’s daughter-in-law Jo has reopened the shop as a gallery with monthly exhibitions.

In a previous life Jo Harris worked in tourism and was very involved with the first Tasting Australia in 1997, so she has enjoyed being involved again over recent years, bringing the worlds of food and art together.

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