'No Objectionable Taste If Properly Mixed'
This illustration was my contribution to the collaborative project 'Creative Reactions' in association with Pint of Science in Cambridge. Artists and speakers were paired up and artists created visual responses to the scientists work/talks. My piece is based on the work of historian Lesley Steinitz, who focuses on food advertising in England from 1880-1920, in particular food supplements such as Bovril. The work was displayed along with that of the other 49 artists at an exhibition and performance event in Cambridge, May 2015.
About my 'Creative Reaction'
My illustration takes inspiration from the Greek-influenced advertisements of Sanatogen and includes references to characters featured in the advertising of Sanatogen (Samson and the Lion, and the goddess figures), Bovril (the bull) and Plasmon (Eugen Sandow by the pillar).
It references the over-the-top claims of these brands that their products could provide you with strong nerves, powerful physique, increased endurance and intelligence in order to flourish in your work and at home. The concept of transforming the population into an 'ideal' worker, wife, politician etcetera, has sinister connotations when viewed with the knowledge of both the pernicious influence of modern advertising and the warnings inherent in dystopian fiction such as Orwell's 1984.
Lesley and I discussed the connections between attitudes towards food supplements and the politics of the time, including the connection to the concept of eugenics, which obviously had implications for the later rise of the Nazi party in Europe, and the general fanaticism for becoming or creating the perfect people/society. Therefore my illustrative response is a deliberate pastiche of the compositional style of religious paintings and the Greek-inspired Sanatogen adverts to create a sinister parody of the original 1900's advertisements.
The title of the piece is a direct quote from some promotional advice at point-of-sale for retailers selling Sanatogen, as are the other slogans on the factory wall. The colour scheme is also referenced from print media of the period and the limited colour palettes resulting from the use of old printing press techniques.