UPDATE: The Decay of Bread and Teabags in Perspex Boxes: 4 months

My moulding perspex box sculptural pieces are becoming even more interesting. I have never left items to go mouldy for this long before. It has been about 4 months now, you would never leave bread for example to mould for that long in your household fridge or home cupboards. Below are some images i’ve taken of the boxes at this stage in their progression.









The tea bags seem to have reached a stage where they are not moulding rapidly anymore. They have a furry exterior developing on them and a greeny tinge growing on the bags but this hasn’t progressed as quickly as it was in the last three weeks. The bread box is a highly successful piece, it continues to mould day by day, it is no longer even recognisable as piece of bread, what has suprised me most that I never predicted would happen is the amount that it has shrunk within the box. There is an aray of texture and colour developing on the bread, the yellow spots are particularly interesting and an unusal surface is developing. I will continue to document these boxes and blog more stages of their moulding until my final assessment.


The initial inspiration for this final piece using petri dishes to create an art piece was a mug I forgot about that still have some tea in it. After I eventually remembered about it the bottom had started to mould and reminded me of how a sample in a petri dish sometimes looks. I instantly thought about the more scientific side to things decaying and started to work on how I could incorporate Petri Dishes into an art piece. Below is an image of the mug that inspired this thought.


I immediately got hold of some petri dishes and started filling them with things that would decay over time, like bread, milk, yoghurt, tea, juice and combinations of two or more of these ingredients. I wanted to see how they moulded in a dish with little air and different conditions to how I have moulded things before. At this point, I was not really sure how I was going to use these pieces to create an art piece but I was confident that eventually I would. Below are images of some of the petri dishes before and after they have started to mould. Some of them have become very interesting objects and will continue changing over time but I did not feel that displaying these objects alone as art was enough.


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I decided to paint the inside of some more petri dishes with fake mould to create a juxtaposition between the real and the not real. This idea was inspired by Vija Celmins “to fix the image in memory” which plays with post perspective by asking what is real? In this work, there are two rocks, one is real and one is an imitation.  There is the same principle as a hall of mirrors. This undoes the notion of realistic artwork because we have no idea which one is art.


To fix the image in memory series – Vija Celmin

Creating real and fake moulding petri dishes and displaying them altogether does make the viewer ask themselves which ones are art? Are they all art, as one piece? Are the petri dishes miniature paintings or symbols of decay? that is up to you. By doing this, I have tried to show a juxtaposition between things changing over time (real mould) and preserving time or capturing a moment in the decay process (fake mould). Interesting things are happening when displaying these two notions together. In my opinion the piece that I have created from petri dishes is one of my most successful.

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“Petri Dish Artwork”

The juxtaposition between the real and the fake within decay is something I have explored over and over throughout the project and I feel that this piece sums up my findings accurately which is why I chose to display it as a final outcome. Also, it almost bridges a gap between science and art and I like how it looks aesthetically. It will be interesting to see how the real Petri dishes mould over time and how they look in relation to the ones I have painted. It is interesting that this final piece will continue to decay.


Whilst exploring decay as an art from across the internet, I came across an article (link below) entitled “ARTIST USES MOULD TO CREATE DECAYED ARCHITECTURAL MODELS” and was obviously instantly interested.


Artist Daniele Del Nero creates architectural scale models of buildings and then dampens the exterior of the structure and applies a thin dusting of flour. The model is then placed into a transparent case, which relates to my moulding perspex boxes. Mould starts to grow after a couple of days and dies within two weeks, leaving behind what the artist has described as “a dusty spider-web which covers the model like a rambler plant“.

Like me with my actual moulding artwork , He avoids having direct contact with the mould, removing the cover over the models only to photograph them. He has also related Food Decay to the Decay of the world in a way like I have. This is highly related to me using mould to show pollution and climate change in my factory piece. I have mentioned in my reflective journal a few times about how mould and decay can relate to the end of the world or its breakdown, I appear to have found an artist that feels the same way. He states “We are used to imagining our cities as permanent and definitive, but it’s amazing how little time it takes for nature to reclaim its spaces.”

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These works are AMAZING, they are definitely my favourite works out of all the other artists I’ve come across that use mould to create art. The photographs are beautiful as well as the pieces themselves. His work encourages me experiment with getting a more professional photo of my perspex boxes and other moulding objects as I don’t feel these would look as successful without the high level of photography and dark background. There is something very eery about these pieces, but I absolutely love them. Daniele Del Nero’s work is without a doubt a success. He wanted to “reproduce in small-scale the particular sensation of being in a lonely, abandoned place” and I feel he has without a doubt achieved this. He is a massive inspiration to me right now and his work definitely makes me want to experiment with creating 3D works and to use mould to create a certain feeling or atmosphere.

Casting Decaying Apples

  After undertaking the body casting workshop, I was highly inspired to use alginate and plaster to cast a decaying food. The apple was the obvious choice because of its hard and dry outer layer as it would hold its shape and be easier to get out of the mould.


 Shown above are the plaster casts of the apples and the actual decaying food itself. The apples were really hard and wrinkled rather than decaying and going soft because I used the fruit I used to print with weeks ago and I believe the ink must have clogged up the pores which made the apples perfect to cast. It was completely accidental that I was able to cast them at all really. As with the body casting I did, the alginate has picked up even the tiniest details making an incredibly realistic cast.

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You can see in the images above just how much detail you can pick up when replicating an object using this method. These are just experiments and the result of me playing with a new material but if i wanted to take this further, I would make many more casts and dip them in yoghurt. I found out that plaster goes mouldy if you cover it in yogurt and leave it out in the open so that could be a very interesting idea to work with. 

Body Casting Workshop: Alginate and Plaster

Undertaking this simple body casting workshop allowed me to explore new processes and to work with materials that I have never worked with before. I experimented by pouring Slow Set Alignate (an organic material containing seaweed) into a cup whilst my finger was in it to make moulds and then filled them with plaster, left to set and achieved the result below. I couldn’t believe how much detail the alginate mould had picked up, you can see every tiny crack or crease in the skin on my hands. To me, attending workshops is invaluable as they open my eyes to new ways of creating art that I could apply to my decay project. Alginate was very easy to use and captured even the tiny details like my fingerprints.

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Undertaking this workshop has encouraged me to think about having a go at casting some mouldy food. I think it’s highly beneficial to experiment and makes for a more successful outcome. The food that I cast will have to be fairly dry in the decay process, so I would have to go for an old apple or bread rather than a squishy decaying pepper that’s full of liquid. It would be impractical to get the food item out of the mould if it was too far into the decay process as it may just disintegrate. I really enjoyed this workshop and look forward to trying out some casts of decaying apples or something similar of my own.

UPDATE: Progress of Decaying and Decayed Sculpture and Artist Heikki Leis

My project work is incredibly inspired by the work of Heikki Leis in his project AFTERLIFE. Unlike photographer Heikki Leis, I do not have the facilities to leave things moulding for months and months but these are limitations I am working with throughout my investigation and I am continuing to make work in other ways regardless of the restraints. Heikki documents decay in its raw state and makes something that has been left out for far too long look incredibly beautiful.





 Most people have pulled long-forgotten vegetables from their refrigerator’s depths at least once, and just the memory is enough to make a stomach turn. But one man’s fridge mold is another man’s still life. Estonian artist Heikki Leis’s AFTERLIFE project is highly relevant to my project. It is a veritable rotting cornucopia of vegetables photographed long past their prime.

I like that Heikki’s project was almost accidental. He says: -“I was inspired by some potatoes I had once left out in a pot for too long. They had started to mold and on closer examination the colors and textures looked interesting enough to take some photos,” Leis then started experimenting with various fruits and vegetables. He sometimes let them decay for two months, keeping them covered so they wouldn’t dry out. When Leis finished, he was truly finished. He says -“I’m tempted to say I ate them, but the truth is I just threw them away.”


The two perspex boxes that are full of fruit and vegetables have unfortunately had to be thrown away. Just as Heikki Leis did, I had photographed them and documented them for all I wanted so just got rid of them. My Box sculptures have progressed to such a state of decay that it was unpleasant to be around them. It was highly interesting to be able to document the stages of decay and I believe it has helped me understand the moulding of food better and therefore be able to produce art work initially inspired by it far more successfully. The changes that these boxes have been through include: – the development of mould, sweating, shrinking, emitting liquids, growing furry spores and finally gaining an infestation of fruit flies. This is a documented time period in itself. These changes will definitely continue being influential to my painting and mixed media work. Knowing the processes from life will help me capture a more realistic approach especially when producing images of things that don’t necessarily exist.





The Bread and Teabag boxes continue to rot away. I believe that the bread mould is the most successful decaying sculpture as it has probably undergone the most change but has also stayed the most intact. I also feel that this kind of mould is the most interesting and exciting to capture through mixed media techniques. Even though I have stopped documenting two of the boxes, they images that I have acquired throughout this process feed into and will continue to influence the progressions I make throughout my project and investigation into decay.

Key Artwork: “KAMIKAZE” – Peter Blake – 1965

Peter Blake is a well renound artist who has exhibited alongside David Hockney and RB Keytie. Some of his most famous work included Kamikaze and other wrestling imagery and Sargent Peppers Lonely Hearts Album Club Album Cover 1967,   Blake starred in the ‘Pop goes the easel’ – the first pop art video shown by the BBC.

Peter Blake Kamikaze

Two very prominent themes within Blake’s work are that of Collage and Wrestling.  Collage began with Picasso and George Brack in Fine Art. Blake interest in collage aided him in the homages he has produced to Kurt Schwitters and Joseph Cornell, taking their influence and making his own take on them. He claimed collage was a “collection of unrelated things” and that anything could be collage. Blake trained as a graphic designer so you see lettering in a lot of his artworks for this reason.

Peter Blake is known for creating wrestling stars, he does sometimes paint actual existing wrestlers like Zebra Kid and Kendo Nagasaki, but the majority of them are made up imagery with made up names, stories and formulated lives. He captures a made up past within the work. Examples of his made up wrestler paintings include: Baron Adolf Kaiser, ord Irish X, The Da Vinci brothers which have a reference to Art History and Doktor K Torture. He also developed women wrestlers like Foxy Yoko Koko and Babe Rainbow.

Below is a link to the video of Peter Blake painting wrestler Kendo Nagasaki. It is highly entertaining but at some points almost uncomfortable to watch. It’s a strange concept a hard wrestling time wearing his gear to pose for a painting. Black often puts items on top of the stretchers of his work that reference the piece, this is a highly interesting thing to do. Wrestling has a rich history in Art, some examples of other famous wrestling pieces include: Francis Bacon’s two figures 1953, George Belows – Strag at Sharkeys 1909 and Pablo Picassos lino cut -Bullfight.



Kamikazi has his name written in large theatrical lettering and wears a mask of the rising sun to hide his identity. Blake often uses the combination of printing, painting and sculpture to tell a story within his art. You can see that in ‘Kamikazi’, Blake has collaged on some photos of Kamikaze pilots to show the meaning behind the name and created a kamikaze plane sculpture to encompass the whole thing. Also, on top of the stretcher there is another bit of sculpture where the mask of the rising sun has been recreated . Blake’s wrestling characters are highly interesting and you can see that he experienced a lot of joy creating them.