FEAST Journal: Sugar

Research events and writing as guest editor for online Journal FEAST Sugar Issue. Contributions from academics, artists and home cooks, to present the complex histories, properties and many forms that this shape-shifting material assumes.

Sugar is a shapeshifter, a snake, a slippery character that fluctuates between liquid and solid, crystalline and glassy, sticky and dry. It is seductive but poisonous, infantilised and sexualised, glamorous and special, yet cheap and every day. It preserves and it corrupts. It is simultaneously a fundamental food, luxury food, and junk food.

The people I have interviewed throughout this research process couldn’t quite categorise sugar. It seems to be neither animal, vegetable, or mineral. It appears as all those things. It has got me thinking about sugar as an ‘archetype’ substance, an exemplar of the extraordinary in every day, and the magic in the material we’re made of.

Watch the magic of a lemon sherbet being made at Maxon’s Sweets.

FEAST journal’s Laura Mansfield invited me to guest edit the SUGAR issue 2019, and develop hands-on research into the sweet stuff. Through a series of experimental workshops at Manchester Museum, The Institute of Making, and with British Caribbean Heritage museum MuseumAnd in Nottingham, I have explored sugar as an active material, a substance that takes on manifold forms and has a powerful impact on the body and our desires, as well as shaping historical and contemporary culture.

FEAST: Sugar brings together my research with contributions from academics, writers, home cooks, and artists. Through the contributors’ many-faceted voices the edition interweaves a discussion on the complex substance of sugar with sensory and playful perspectives on its material properties.

FEAST: Sugar is the first in a trilogy of commissioned editions, on the ‘commodities’ Sugar, Salt, and Spice.

Sugar Creation, part of Bittersweet late event, Machester Museum 14 Feb 2019
Sugar Transformation, research workshop with journal contributors, leading toward Institute of Making’s Public Open Day: Delight & Disgust 23 March 2018
Nottingham Caribbean Tea Party with MuseumAnd and a local community of women originally from the Caribbean islands, cooking recipes using sugar and sugar cane.

Thanks to MMU Special Collections.