REFLECTION: SUBJECT: Time: An Investigation into Food Decay

 Looking back at my subject work, I have really worked out of my comfort zone and steered away from the work I would typically create. When thinking about time as a brief, I instantly thought about things changing over time. After coming across Sam Taylor Wood’s “Still life” piece, I embarked on working on artistically portraying an investigation into food decay. I have used physical mould and decay as a medium to produce art and I have also tried to replicate the look of mould using mixed media techniques. I have enjoyed using materials that are not typically for use within art, like sugar and cotton wool and it has opened my eyes to the fact that it is how you use an d manipulate the material you are working with that creates successful art work, not the material itself.

I think the bread filled perspex box that I have produced is particularly successful because it gives me and the viewer an insight into how things decay. We would not usually leave bread to decay for that long in our households and so it allows others to see the colours that moulds produce and the hidden beauty of the natural things that we take for granted or find repulsive. I also feel that my photographs and video of my decaying art piece are particularly successful as they accurately capture change and decay over time. Also, visually beautiful photographs have been captured even though they are portraying something repulsive. I do wish that I could have left the piece to decay for longer but I simply did not have the facilities to do so safely. My experimentation with photo montage produced interesting outcomes and highly unusual subject matter to paint from. Working with Petri Dishes was a success in my eyes as they gave clarity and added a sense of realism to the fake mould that I had painted within them. It also encourages people to question what they think they see. I have never really worked with 3D or sculpture before and I think that my sculptural final piece for this project is a success. It is visually appealing and there is a strange juxtaposition going on between the perfectly formed fruit and the fake decay mouldy looking exterior.

Looking back, I do not feel that the coloured mould experiments I produced were particularly successful. I feel that they don’t really fit in with the rest of the work made within this project and that they almost look to appealing to the eye and no longer look mouldy or as if they are portraying decay. Filling perspex boxes with vegetables and fruits and photographing them was also unsuccessful as when the foods decayed they leaked liquids that the boxes simply couldn’t contain. They also attracted bugs and fruit flies and I had to get rid of them in fear of my health and the welfare of other students that were working near my desk.

In conclusion, I feel I have managed to create a substantial investigation into food decay inspired by a variety of artists and full of experimentation with materials and techniques. I think I have managed to capture a frozen moment in the decay process using artist materials a well as portraying how decay develops over time through 3D work and photography. I have analysed whether this body of work can be considered art and decided that setting is incredibly important in this. I have successfully created two final pieces that definitely demonstrate an investigation into food decay and worked with a subject that I feel has shown me and others that there are fascinating things out there that on a daily basis we take for granted.



Within my subject module, as things physically change over time, it is highly important to document the developments of my work and take photographs of things that have moulded. Here are some images of my moulding Petri Dish artwork, It has demonstrated the juxtaposition between real mould changing over time and the mould that I created being a frozen moment in time highly accurately. The Fake moulding dishes have not changed but that cannot be said for the real moulds.


With this Idea, I wanted to portray the concept of the juxta position and relationship between real and fake moulds. I also wanted to portray the fact that the things we throw away and take for granted i.e. moulding food can be art and can be seen in a different light. It is so interesting to see how these litle petri dishes have changed over the christmas holiday and it is a shame that we miss a lot by ignoring it or in this case, binning it before it gets to this stage. Below are some particularly interesting dishes and changes that have occured:




In this project, I set out to investigate and capture food decay, I wanted to create an interesting art project and pieces that is not typical or usually thought of as art. I think I have definitely been successful in adhereing to both of these goals within this piece and the whole body of work that I have created.


I have captured decay that we wouldn’t usually get to see and I have used mould to create art pieces, I have also reigned my ideas in from watching things mould and created fake moulds using art materials and paints. Juxtaposing these two elements within this piece has brought my project together and makes it feel a lot more consolidated as a whole. I will continue to work with these ideas and think about reflecting and discussing whether I consider my work to be art at all. 

Investigation into Food Decay – Influential Artist, Photographer and Microbiologist

“As far as artistic  methods go, it’s certainly creative. A photographer, and former microbiologist,  has worked out how to make portraits by growing strategically placed bacteria  cultures.

Zachary Copfer  developed the technique, which he dubs ‘bacteriography’, using photographs of  famous faces such as Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and telescopic images of  the Milky Way.

It works by taking  a bacteria such as E.coli, turning it into a fluorescent protein and spreading  it across a plate.

A negative of the  photograph is then layered on top of the plate and exposed to radiation with the  bacteria growing up in strategic places to bring out the image. It is then  coated in acrylic and resin.”






This is highly influential to my food decay over time project as like me, here is an artist creating art from mould and being inspired by Decay. I saw this artists work after creating my petri dish piece and thought it was highly interesting. It is amazing that he has figured out a way to control the mould to make it produce portraits. This contrasts with my work because I am letting the mould itself create elements of my project, where as he is guiding the mould to create specific things. It is interesting, the artistic possibilities that emerge from something that is commonly taken for granted or used for a far different purpose.

The Progress of a Moulding Artwork

Here, I have documented the progress of a moulding artwork that I produced about four weeks ago and have photographed up to this date. I started off by using a combination of food items, such as bread, yoghurt and orange juice with paint to create an abstract piece on canvas board in the hope that it would decay over time. I used brightly coloured acrylic paint as I wanted to see if it would change the colour of the mould that grew or become part of it but it seems the mould has just grown over it. This to me, is such an interesting piece. I never thought that my artwork would be this far in the decay process in just four weeks. I like that I created the initial piece but the only controlling factor changing the artwork is time. I cannot control how much mould or what type of changes develop within this piece which is part of the reason why this project is so appealing as the end result is a surprise to me as well. Time is again strongly embedded in this artwork and in a way was the artist. I put down the starting point and time itself completed it.

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I think this is a highly successful piece as it captures food decay and a strong sense of time incredibly accurately. Above all, I feel they are highly interesting and beautiful pieces. I have made something considered to be disgusting and undervalued look visually attractive and allowed it to be considered as art. My initial Inspiration for making something and letting it rot over time was the work of JOHANNA MARTENSSON.


The piece of hers that inspired my work in particular was “Bread City”.


Johanna Built a City out of Bread and watched it and photographed it decaying over a period of six months. This is an incredibly simple piece, as is mine but it is highly effective. Johanna said she was inspired by an article that claimed the earth would eventually regenerate itself despite humanity’s worst efforts. “Within 500 years  all buildings would be half fallen or fallen, perfect homes for animals and  plants”. She then began to wonder what humanity’s decay might look like in  reality. And so the bread city was born. I think it is very inspiring that she used food decay to relate to life and this is something I am definitely going to look into during my project experimentation.

Johanna inspired me to document the moulding of food over time in the first place. After seeing this artwork, I was intrigued as to what would happen if I made a kind of painting that could be put on the wall using food and photographed its decay. Below are images of the first and last photographs I took of my decaying art piece.


The Documentation of Decaying items in Perspex Boxes

Here are some more recent images of my vegetables decaying over time, I left them in my studio space over the weekend and they seem to have curled up and gone a bit wrinkly and shrunk in size.



There are many different visible changes that can be seen within these boxes after just the period of a weekend, there are small amounts of fur growing on a few of the vegetables. There is also a milky liquid leaking from one of the peppers in the box and they appear to be condensating. The physical change of these items as they decay is highly interesting to document but also gives me an insight into varied types of mould themselves.


Different items in the boxes seem to be decaying at different rates. It will be interesting to see which object becomes completely unrecognisable first.


TIME: FOOD DECAY: Pen Sketches

     Drawings of Decaying foods: I have been drawing with 0.2 and 0.5 Black Fine Liner pens lately, as they allow for more expressive drawing and mark making. Here are a few quick sketches I have produced of mouldy foods. None of these sketches took longer than 5 minutes, I wanted to see how time effected my actual drawing practice, and even though they didn’t take very long, I feel these drawings are rather charming and have a lot of character. I also feel that they capture the decay of the food drawn well.


I drew a variety of foods as they all decay in different ways. I think this sketch of the tomato is the most successful. You can tell that it is decayed and that it is incredibly squishy so I am confident that it is the drawing where I have captured the rotting best.

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Decaying foods make for very interesting drawing studies, I found this much more inspiring to draw from than if the food was not mouldy and was ordinary. We take for granted the simplest things in life and I would say that the beauty that can be seen in decay is most definitely one of them. Drawing these under timed conditions has opened my eyes to the fact that you do not have to spend hours on a drawing for it to be a success. It is also a great way of recording things quickly, especially if they are only there for a short amount of time. I will definitely be producing more timed drawings as it links my project to the brief of time even more.

Time: An Investigation into Food Decay

With TIME being the brief given to me this year, I am starting to research and investigate into the subject of time.

Time: Brainstorm of Ideas

There are many routes that I could take with this project and I suppose it can be argued that everything can be linked to time in some way or another. I have thought about and researched many areas of time including: Change over time, capturing a moment in time, running out of time, having time taken away from you, decay and history. In my opinion, time and change are very closely linked and it didn’t take me long to realise that with this title I would like to document the passing of time. I have decided to base my project on food decay. I will document the decay of food over time through the media of photography, painting, drawing and mixed materials. I may even use film to show accurately how certain foods decay over a set time period and leave food to mould as a sculpture/3D piece. Drawing and painting decaying foods and photographing them seems to be a logical place to start. I feel as long as I keep drawing and making, an exciting project should evolve naturally.