New Gallery London, Peckham Road
We were asked to make a birthday cake to celebrate the 100th issue of
Icon Magazine reimagining the design of a cake and considering the space iin which it could be presented and served. In a previous project, we designed a deconstructed dessert for 100 wedding guests plated on a grid of tiles, making a huge tabletop pattern that would be broken up as it was served. This time, we wanted to make a sculpture that would occupy a space vertically, horizontally and with depth that would present many different angles as you walked around it.
We designed a web of fishing lines with supporting structures above and below, creating a matrix on which to attach the cakes. We had 100 clear perspex discs made, each of which would support a unique combination of cake elements. After deciding the frame of the cake, we wanted to give the sculpture the sense of movement. An explosion seemed to us to be a good thing to try and build with cake, so we reconfigured the lines into a shape that would suggest a dense 'epicentre', leading outwards to smaller fragments, as if an explosion had been freeze-framed.
We had no chance to test the build, only to test the edible parts of the cake. The load-bearing components of the cake had to be strong enough to prevent their being sliced by the taut supporting lines but light so they wouldn't pull the lines from the ceiling.
We prepped a huge variety of elements, based on the colours of an explosion and fruits and vegetables of the late summer - beetroot and passionfruit microwave sponge cakes, meringues of strawberry and carrot, strawberry and yoghurt marshmallows, calendula and tagetes petals, sauces of raspberry and carrot, powders of beetroot, yoghurt, strawberry and raspberry, and blocks of dark chocolate ganache.
It took us fours hours to build the sculpture, battling against the heat of the photographic lights and their effect on the cake and the fastenings of the lines. Parts of the cake were beginning to change shape as sugars and gelatine softened.Flowers wilted and the occasional chunk of cake or marshmallow would fall, spraying petals and powders over the board. Sauces that had been blobs became mobile, starting on one platform and dripping to another. Worrying that the whole thing was going to turn into a gooey psychedelic mess, we pronounced the cake finished.