Food preservative is kind of a dirty word, but when we’re talking about watercolours, then it’s not likely to lead to parental frowns or dangerously wound-up children.
Melbourne artist Dawn Tan has a lovely habit of recording what she’s eaten with line drawings and paintbrushes. I first discovered the work of Melbourne artist Dawn Tan through the excellent Hello Sandwich blog. Her latest zine documents a whirlwind, marathon-eating trip to Sydney.
Have you always had a habit of illustrating your meals?
I think for a few years now, I’ve been enjoying the process of drawing my meals – I remember starting out with just ink drawings and smiley faces over my rice grains. It was only last year that I started adding colour into my happy food drawings. I love food and drawing; so to be able to combine both is really rewarding for me!
Tell me about your Sydney zine. What were the dining highlights? Most unusual things you tried?
My Sydney zine was actually my own itinerary. I wanted to make it fun and exciting for my boyfriend and I – and being both lovers of food, I decided it would be a three-day, short-and-sweet, eat-all-you-can sort of trip. After finishing up the entire little guide, I decided it was a bit too useful for just a one-time use. And so, I decided to share it and reproduce it as a zine! This way, more people can benefit from it!
There wasn’t much unusual stuff I tried. Being Asian, I think Asian food is 100 times weirder (stuff like Frog Leg Congee, Turtle Soup, Alligator Meat, all of which I don’t dare try!).
Did you do lots of research before hitting Sydney or did you wander around and pick out what looked good – do you have a good “nice-place-to-eat” radar?
I’ve been to Sydney only once before my November trip. And all I could remember was all the touristy stuff like the Opera House, Darling Harbour, The Rocks, etc. I didn’t get to venture out and try all the yummy food places I wanted to.
So, of course, I did quite a bit of planning before visiting Sydney again this time round. Three days is not a lot of time, so I had to make sure I had a fool-proof-eat-all-I-can-plan. And we (my boyfriend and I) pretty much stuck to our plan, even though we ate like eight meals a day! We made sure we popped by Glebe and Surry Hills, the two places we’d heard so much about!
What’s on your to-go-back-and-try list?
I really really enjoyed the hot dogs I got at Harry’s Cafe de Wheels. They’re affordable and good. And there’s just something about eating hot dogs, while sitting near the water, watching huge ships dock!
What’s next on your drawing list?
If you know my work, you would know that I not only do paintings of my food. I sometimes make mountain paintings with glitter powder and oil paints. And at other times, I make pencil drawings of animals too. So right now, I’m currently working on building a large-scale patterned mountain region with just the use of paper. I think it’s going to be lots of fun!