Life’s Little Luxuries

(Life’s Little Luxuries- Nicole/Nicky Parker)

Cupcakes are an everyday treat for my Y generation; they are no longer recognised as luxuries to be enjoyed on special occasions. It is my generation that is becoming highly addicted to having the “best of everything.” We are a consumerist’s society and what should be a luxury is now an indulgence that is less about sharing a common social nicety, but rather it is more like a social “must-have” and “must be seen.” The cupcake is both a status symbol and a readily accessible commodity.

My cupcakes are glossy and pop-influenced – like mass produced Andy Warhol objects of desire. The bold coloured setting of the cupcakes brings a modern sensation, keeping my generation in touch whilst also making the impasto cupcakes pop. Vanessa Valencia was my influencing artist, her artworks A Fanciful Twist and Two Layered Cake inspired me in my painting technique. My personal experience of growing up and working in my family’s bakery has given me the advantage of being socially aware of the emotional connection people have developed with food. When in business I have learnt that presentation is everything, no longer does quality play a major role but rather people buy what looks best. Through the use of edible materials (i.e. the sprinkles and sugar balls) I have represented how important appearance has become to our society. The attraction to the cupcakes comes through the presentation and decoration; they are designed in order to appeal through the use of colour and flavour.

By creating my paintings with the impasto I have created the impression of “plastic” cupcakes, thus reflecting our fast-paced consumerist obsessions.  Even as I write, socially aware young women are scrambling to join “tea-parties” in fashionable, upmarket eateries and cafes. Their tables are heaving with confectionery – cupcakes shiny with frosted icing in pastel colours and sprinkles. But are these young women experiencing the real thing?

Debbie Miller’s cupcakes are described as delicious and appealing, almost real looking. The way in which she creates such realistic icing and the use of the decorations, such as ‘hundreds and thousands,’ present classy and lifelike compositions. In her paintings it is other elements, such as the sprinkles or a cherry, that are added to the cupcakes which enhance the appearance and this is the same process used in reality. Appearance is a very important aspect of food and with cakes an “expensive” aspect is continuously applied because that is what society now wants.

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