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Nathan Wyburn
Nathan Wyburn

Artist Nathan Wyburn Likes to Play With His Food

Nathan Wyburn
Nathan Wyburn

If anyone ever told Nathan Wyburn not to play with his food, he wasn't listening. And it's a good thing. For the past five years, the Cardiff-based artist has been turning foodstuffs into fine art.

“It was a newspaper headline about Simon Cowell saying ‘Love Him or Hate Him,’ and I instantly thought of marmite as that’s their slogan,” says Wyburn of how the idea of using food as a medium originated. “Toast seemed a very fitting canvas to keep it authentic and quirky!”

That Cowell was the inspiration behind Wyburn’s food art only seems appropriate, given that the 25-year-old appeared on Britain’s Got Talent in 2011, where he created an on-the-spot toast and marmite portrait of host Michael McIntyre. While Cowell was the first food art portrait Wyburn created, “I can remember sketching portraits of my favorite childhood TV stars like the Power Rangers and Buffy the Vampire Slayer when I was about eight years old with my father.”

Wyburn has merged his unique creative talent with what he describes as “a very Warhol-like obsession with pop culture” into a one-of-a-kind portfolio that’s both fun and fascinating to look at, as evidenced by the pieces below, which range from a slice of Obama to peanut butter and Britney Spears. 

1. JUDY GARLAND

Inspired by her singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in The Wizard of Oz, Wyburn used Rainbow Drops Sweets to create this portrait of the legendary singer-actress.

2. BRITNEY SPEARS

"America's most loved snack/spread for America's sweetheart!" is how Wyburn describes his peanut butter and jelly painting of the pop princess.

3. BOB MARLEY

Wyburn painted "the most iconic reggae singer of all time" with Reggae Reggae BBQ Sauce.

4. Cara Delevingne

Wyburn chose crisps for his portrait of the model-actress, because "I liked the irony of a super model created from carbs snacks." For her part, Delevingne was impressed, tweeting "Thank you Nathan Wyburn for making me out of biscuits!!"

5. DAVID BECKHAM

In the case of David Beckham, Wyburn let the footballer inspire his method—not his medium—and painted this with his feet.

6. KATY PERRY

Inspired by her hit song "Roar"—and the fact that she refers to her fans as "Katy cats"—Wyburn utilized cat food to create this Perry portrait.

7. BARACK OBAMA

"Pizza has become a very Americanized meal and I therefore thought the President of America would be fun," says Wyburn of this multi-topping Obama pie.

8. LADY GAGA

"In Wales we call soda 'pop,'" says Wyburn. "Inspired by her Artpop album, I wanted to make her art with pop."

9. SIMON COWELL

The celebrity who inspired it all: Simon Cowell's marmite on toast. "Marmite's slogan is 'you either love it or hate it,'" explains Wyburn. "Most say the same applies for Simon!"

10. QUEEN ELIZABETH

Royalty is no match for Wyburn, who made The Queen out of Greek delicacies, "Created for the opening of a Greek restaurant in Windsor."

11. MILEY CYRUS

"Inspired by her trademark poking out of her tongue, I used paint on the end of my tongue to lick the canvas," says Wyburn.

12. STEPHEN FRY

Playing up the actor-comedian's surname, Wyburn assembled this portrait out of egg fried rice & vegetables.

13. TWIGGY

Loving the "name relation," Wyburn used Twiglets for Twiggy.

14. COSETTE

"Inspired by the colors and the French connection," Wyburn used piles of Bic pen parts to create this portrait of Les Misérables' Cosette. 

15. WILL & KATE

Wyburn utilized thousands of folded babygrows (sort of like onesies) to celebrate the birth of Princess Charlotte.

16. MARILYN MONROE

Marilyn Monroe graces the cover of Wyburn's first book, Not That Kind of Art, which will be out this year. "It's made up of marmite on toast, chocolate, peanut butter and jelly, toothpaste, and baked beans."

All images courtesy of Nathan Wyburn

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Louvre Abu Dhabi
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The Louvre Abu Dhabi Just Opened the World's First Radio-Guided Highway Art Gallery
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Louvre Abu Dhabi

One way to plan an epic art road trip is to drive from museum to museum, but in the United Arab Emirates, you can take in masterpieces without leaving your car. As Artforum reports, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has lined a stretch of highway with billboards displaying works by Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, and Piet Mondrian.

The 10 works on display along the E/11 Sheikh Zayed road connecting Dubai to Abu Dhabi are recreations of pieces at or on loan to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which developed the project in partnership with three radio stations. Dubbed the Highway Gallery, it was "created to reinforce art's role in elevating everyday life into something beautiful and memorable," the museum website reads.

Like in a traditional gallery, the 30-foot-by-23-foot displays along the road are accompanied by a guided audio tour. Drivers can learn the title, artist, technique, and other details about each piece by tuning into a participating local radio station (Radio 1 FM, Classic FM, or Emarat FM). There they will hear descriptions of Leonardo da Vinci’s La Belle Ferronnière, Van Gogh’s Self Portrait, 1887, and Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow, and Black, as well as the Islamic sculpture Mari-Cha Lion and the sarcophagus of Egyptian princess Henuttawy.

The Highway Gallery will run through mid-March. After that, art lovers can drive their cars to the Louvre Abu Dhabi to see the items in person.

[h/t Artforum]

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5 Things You Might Not Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—who was born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs. But there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.

1. AN EARTHQUAKE LED TO HIS DISTINCTIVE NOSE.

Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.

2. HE ALMOST BECAME A PIANIST.

Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.

3. HE HELPED CREATE A NATIONAL PARK.

If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.

4. HE WELCOMED COMMERCIAL ASSIGNMENTS.

While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams's mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.

5. HE AND GEORGIA O'KEEFFE WERE FRIENDS.

Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

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