For Eat Reading 2016, culinary experience design studio Bompas & Parr has collaborated with the University of Reading to present Canvas of Crumbs, an interactive installation for families that celebrates our cultural obsession with biscuits, recognises the Berkshire town’s role in creating many of the country’s most iconic biscuits and champions biscuits as miniature forms of culinary art.
On Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 June 2016, Canvas of Crumbs gives biscuit lovers the chance to engage directly with an interpretation of a biscuit production line by adding their own decorative twist to a finished biscuit. A range of professional tools and ingredients will be accessible for even the smallest of hands.
The installation at Reading Town Hall leverages the local culinary heritage of Huntley & Palmers. From 1822 until 1972, it was one of the country’s most prodigious biscuit creators and manufacturers. It was the first producer to manufacture biscuits on a large scale and notably created the Ginger Nut, Digestive, Pink Wafer, Sugar Rusks, Iced Gems, the Osborne, Pic-Nic and Army Biscuits – the latter used in soldiers’ rations in the First World War.
Participants at Canvas of Crumbs can choose from three new biscuit recipes devised by students on the University of Reading’s Food Sciences course that reference the area’s history in brewing (malt flavours), growing botanical bulbs (rose and pistachio) and Huntley & Palmers’ biscuit heritage (ginger) – those themes known locally as the ‘Three B’s’ – inspired by and adapted from recipes found in Huntley & Palmers’ archives.
The shapes and intricate moulded designs for the biscuits were designed by illustrator Rob Lowe, again paying tribute to the Three B’s, who has created a range of miniature biscuit artworks to be reproduced in extremely limited editions.
The interpretation of a ‘production line’ pays tribute to the wonders of mass production – a Victorian concept little celebrated in modern food circles but which is both a sign of the sophistication of technology and culinary ‘wealth’ of our culture that has helped embed biscuits in our national psyche and created a culinary conceit reassuringly identifiable around the world.
The freeform designs that are produced by guests to Canvas of Crumbs are intended to promote biscuits as art forms in their own right, representing the next chapter in an evolutionary story that has seen the highly recognisable ornate designs of some of our oldest biscuits become ingrained in our shared cultural and culinary history.
A mini photographic studio will allow guests to record their designs for posterity – and upload them to their social media channels, with a host of biscuit-related prizes for the best ones. An over-sized biscuit created by Reading College students will also allow guests to step inside a biscuit like a seaside ‘face in hole’ photo moment – this pays tribute to how hard army biscuit ‘photo frames’ were sometimes used by soldiers and their families during the First World War.
Harry Parr, partner of Bompas & Parr, said: “The status of biscuits as a national culinary treasure is inherently connected to the recognisability of Britain’s finest biscuit designs, themselves a wonder of the modern world and a fruit of the innovation of mass production. We’re hoping to inspire the next generation of biscuits and culinary decorators.”
Zsuzsi Lindsay, organiser of Eat Reading, said: “We’re so proud of our biscuit heritage in Reading, and while production may have moved to another part of the country, biscuits will always be tied to our civic psyche. With Canvas of Crumbs, we’re bringing biscuits back to Berkshire!”
Tickets are free and can be booked in advance here