Philomena Harmsworth’s new exhibition at “Le Vieux Four” patisserie, in Beaminster this spring, is about the twin themes of food and stories. The paintings are inspired by the stories Philomena heard in “Le Vieux Four” from both the customers and the owner, Lynette Fisher. The place began to assume a delightful intrigue which was capped by Lynette’s discovery of an old oven whilst restoring the fireplace, hence the name “Le Vieux Four”.
The first group of paintings are a Celebration of Food. The main theme is the creative connection between cooking and talking; how talking seeps into the food people are preparing. Once you start creating something, you are giving it life; making it glow. Everything feeds into creativity – tears and joy. The person talking is the channel that guides the stories into the dishes.
The second group of paintings is about the characters that frequent cafes and food places; who come for company and stories. A short story of Gabriel Garcia Marquez tells of someone who picks up snippets of people’s conversations and lives. It is an intense, condensed experience, which leaves you wondering about the characters. Philomena’s pictures are a similar experience. The people in the café weave their own stories – who is the lady in the meringue dress?
Philomena started to explore the relationship between people and buildings in her last exhibition “Kith & Kin”. This takes the exploration further – The people who frequent the building give it its character and life – or is it the other way round? The characters come in to tell their story; they make it part of the building’s atmosphere.
For this exhibition, Philomena has chosen to use glowing, sweet colours, for the liveliness of the café. This is contrasted against the dark, base colours of the structures. These structures are the grounding things in people’s lives – the dark side that makes you laugh harder and love deeper. The colours show the range of people’s psychological states.