Easter Arts Diary

Exhibitions

Jubilee Park, E14, Anthony Caro, Until 25 May
Reflecting the jutting architecture of Canary Wharf, Caro’s sculpture, in his signature rusted, varnished and painted steel, displays a wide range of form revealing his invention and mastery of his materials. 

Hepworth Wakefield, WF1, Heather & Ivan Morison, Ben Rivers, David Thorpe, Until 10 June 2012
 In the first of a new series of spring exhibitions, Heather and Ivan Morison, Ben Rivers and David Thorpe use film, sculpture, installation and performance to pose questions regarding our relationship with nature and what happens when man-made and natural worlds collide. These exhibitions explore utopian beliefs and practices and an impending sense of apocalypse.

Books

Earls Court, SW5, The London Book Fair, 16th - 18th April 2012.
In its 41st year, The London Book Fair is back at Earl’s Court.

The Old Abbey Inn, Manchester, M15, Eléna Rivera: A Preview, 19th April.
Author of Suggestions at Every Turn, Unknowne Land and Remembrance of Things Plastic, Mistakes, Accidents and the Want of Liberty amongst others and winner of the Robert Fagles prize in translation from the National Poetry Series, Eléna Rivera will read from her latest collection the The Perforated Map.

Films

Bradford, BD1, National Media Museum, Jamon, Jamon, Friday 8 April
Starring Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Jordi Mollà and  Armando del Rio this international Spanish hit launched Penélope Cruz’s career in 1992. Jamón, Jamón presents an intriguing exploration of class, sex and food.

Nationwide, This Must be the Place, Friday 6 April
Already hotly tipped for an Oscar, the film deals with middle-aged wealthy rock star, Cheyenne, (Sean Penn), who, having become jaded and bored with his retirement in Dublin, sets out on a quest to find his father's tormentor, SS Officer Aloise Lange, a Nazi war criminal who is a refugee in the United States. Harvey Weinstein, reflecting on Penn’s performance asserts, “Sean proves once again that he is one of the finest actors of our time.”

Music

Royal Festival Hall, SE1, Peter and the Wolf, April 8 & 9
A family friendly event wherein actor Mackenzie Crook narrates Prokofiev’s guide to the orchestra over a film with live performance from the Aurora Orchestra.

Royal Albert Hall, SW7, Messiah, April 6
Handel’s sacred oratorio is given its correct season by the Royal Choral society, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and guests.

Theatre

Royal Opera House, WC2E, Polyphonia/ Sweet Violets/ Carbon Life, April 5- 23
In an “explosion of today’s brightest talents”, two of the most talented contemporary choreographers of the day, the fast-rising star of the fashion world Gareth Pugh and pop producer Mark Ronson, amongst other guest artists are brought together to create  a dazzling display of physical and aural mastery.

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Love’s, Labour’s, Lost, 03 April- 14 AprilIn a celebration of the company’s 20th anniversary, Barrie Rutter directs Northern Broadsides cast of multi-talented northern actors in an entertaining and delightful comedy in this fast-paced battle of the sexes. Romantic, mischievous and filled with youthful exuberance, Love's Labour's Lost fizzes with song and dance, scintillating performances, jaw-dropping comic timing and hilarious 'steal-the-show' scenes.

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Why does food taste better when we Instagram it?

Delay leads to increased pleasure when you set up a perfect shot of your dinner.

Been on holiday? Take any snaps? Of course you did – but if you’re anything like me, your friends and family didn’t make it into many of them. Frankly, I can only hope that Mr Whippy and I will still be mates in sixty years, because I’m going to have an awful lot of pictures of him to look back on.

Once a decidedly niche pursuit, photographing food is now almost as popular as eating it, and if you thought that the habit was annoying at home, it is even worse when it intrudes on the sacred peace of a holiday. Buy an ice cream and you’ll find yourself alone with a cone as your companion rushes across a four-lane highway to capture his or hers against the azure sea. Reach for a chip before the bowl has been immortalised on social media and get your hand smacked for your trouble.

It’s a trend that sucks the joy out of every meal – unless, that is, you’re the one behind the camera. A new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that taking pictures of food enhances our pleasure in it. Diners at the food court of a farmers’ market in Philadelphia were asked either to photograph their meal or to eat “as you normally would”, then were questioned about how they found it. Those in the photography group reported that not only did they enjoy their meal more, but they were “significantly more immersed in the experience” of eating it.

This backs up evidence from previous studies, including one from this year in the Journal of Consumer Marketing, which found that participants who had been asked to photograph a red velvet cake – that bleeding behemoth of American overindulgence – later rated it as significantly tastier than those who had not.

Interestingly, taking a picture of a fruit salad had no effect on its perceived charms, but “when descriptive social norms regarding healthy eating [were] made salient”, photographing these healthier foods did lead to greater enjoyment. In other words, if you see lots of glossy, beautifully lit pictures of chia seed pudding on social media, you are more likely to believe that it’s edible, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
This may seem puzzling. After all, surely anything tastes better fresh from the kitchen rather than a protracted glamour shoot – runny yolks carefully split to capture that golden ooze, strips of bacon arranged just so atop plump hemispheres of avocado, pillowy burger buns posed to give a glimpse of meat beneath. It is hardly surprising that 95 million posts on Instagram, the photo-sharing site, proudly bear the hashtag #foodporn.

However, it is this delay that is apparently responsible for the increase in pleasure: the act of rearranging that parsley garnish, or moving the plate closer to the light, increases our anticipation of what we are about to eat, forcing us to consider how delicious it looks even as we forbid ourselves to take a bite until the perfect shot is in the bag. You could no doubt achieve the same heightened sense of satisfaction by saying grace before tucking in, but you would lose the gratification that comes from imagining other people ogling your grilled Ibizan sardines as they tuck in to an egg mayonnaise at their desk.

Bear in mind, though, that the food that is most successful on Instagram often has a freakish quality – lurid, rainbow-coloured bagel-croissant hybrids that look like something out of Frankenstein’s bakery are particularly popular at the moment – which may lead to some unwise menu choices in pursuit of online acclaim.

On the plus side, if a diet of giant burgers and salted-caramel lattes leaves you feeling queasy, take heart: if there is one thing that social media likes more than #avotoast, it is embarrassing oversharing. After a week of sickening ice-cream shots, a sickbed selfie is guaranteed to cheer up the rest of us. 

Felicity Cloake is the New Statesman’s food columnist. Her latest book is The A-Z of Eating: a Flavour Map for Adventurous Cooks.

This article first appeared in the 25 August 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Cameron: the legacy of a loser