As part of the Sydney Cake Bake and Sweet Show, The Australian Cake Decorating Network (ACDN) invited up to 30 local cake artists to participate in a gallery called “Sydney in Cake”. Asked to create a piece on canvas using all edible mediums, the artists conveyed varied and heart-felt messages of home… as the results were truly amazing.
I had never heard of anything like this before, so I was keen to get involved. With no sponsorship and no competition, everyone was involved purely out of passion – for the love of the industry and the art of the trade.
Here are some of the highlights. I’d like to make a special mention about cake artist extraordinaire Margie Carter, who poured her blood, sweat and tears into the Luna Park project. It is incredible testimony to Aussie cake artistry and, if you like what you see, check out the step-by-step action shots at ACDN’s Facebook page.
As founder and director of the network, Liz has created a unique online network that is unlike any other forum for cake decorators. After rapid growth, the ACDN now has more than 750 members and regular events in capital cities across Australia.
Jess: How did you come up with the idea to celebrate Sydney through cake artistry?
Liz: We were trying to think of a theme that would be of interest to visitors to the show – the majority of whom are based in Sydney. A friend had the idea of creating an edible art gallery, and I knew I wanted to create a collection of cakes that represented what we love most about the city. With my friend’s permission we merged the two ideas and, after thinking about all the main attractions and landmarks in Sydney, we went on to recreate an edible Luna Park. The design allowed us to create an entrance to the art gallery by walking through its mouth, just like the real landmark.
Jess: What was the most challenging part?
Liz: The sheer scale of it! Many, many, many hours went in to the planning of the structure, including how to construct it safely and the materials required. We had less than 36 hours from when we gained access to the building to when the show began to complete the projecy. Margie led the head component of the project and worked on this with a team of ACDN volunteers for three weeks prior to the show. She and the team transformed a square block of foam to the Luna Park head with incredible detail. We then transported the head from the studio on the day before the show (in the pouring rain) before constructing the pillars and raising the head into position.
Janet O’Sullivan: The Meeting Place
(60cm x 60cm)
With great power comes great responsibility, and nothing is more powerful than deliciousness. Janet’s handcrafted cakes and cupcakes are created in a magical studio in the west of Adelaide, where she also teaches locals how to create one-of-a kind sweet creations at her School of Cake.
Jess: What inspired your design?
Janet: In Aboriginal art, symbols and colour carry very significant meaning, with concentric circles symbolising a meeting place. Colour has been used to capture the landscape of the land and sea. The white dotted lines symbolise the journey of people, the blue circles the sea and the yellow, orange, brown and black the land. The centre of the piece is the city of Sydney itself
Trish Barber: Taronga Zoo
Trish took up sculpting with polymer clay years ago, which evolved to sculpting with fondant in 2012. Her main interest is portraits and she makes 3D caricatures on commission, both in fondant and clay mediums.
Jess: Why did you choose to create animals?
Trish: This was my first attempt at sculpting animals apart from dogs. I chose the Taronga Zoo because of this challenge and because of my love for animals. It was an ambitious project for me and I took leave from work to do it.
Jess: What aspect of your cake artistry are you most passionate about?
Trish: My passion is sculpting, and my specialty is cake toppers in sugar or in clay if customers want a keepsake.
Merryn Holder: Pair of Kookaburras
Merryn began cake artistry in the early ’90s focusing on the traditional style rarely seen these days. She trained at Planet Cake before being snapped up by another leading cake school and contracted as a teacher/facilitator. Soon after, she opened her business, Cake Goddess, in Melbourne that has now relocated to the Northern Territory.
Jess: What did you enjoy most about being involved with this unique project?
Merryn: First of all attempting to make a vertical edible art piece was exciting in itself. I’ve never done that before and don’t consider myself one who can paint, so this was the perfect challenge. Living in Darwin there is not a lot going on in the cake world, so to be able to come together with like minded artists from all over Australia was such a privilege.
Jayne Baratta: A day on the harbour
(76cm x 76cm)
With a passion for baking and a background as a high school food technology and design teacher it was no wonder Jayne discovered a calling to cake design. In 2009 she started her own boutique custom cake business called Yummies, where she loves working with cake, chocolate and fondant to produce one-off sculptured cake designs and wedding cakes.
Jess: What’s the meaning behind this artwork?
Janye: Living in Sydney I have always enjoyed outings to our beautiful harbour. One of my favourite things is to visit circular Quay and enjoy the architecture of our iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. Nothing is more fun than a ferry trip to Manly for an ice cream or a trip by ferry to Taronga Zoo.
Jessica Pedemont: Food Scene
(76cm x 76cm)
I have used mixed media, everything from royal icing, chocolate, modelling chocolate, cake lace, sugar candy, icing, gum paste, edible paints and spray, to wafer paper. You name it, if it’s edible and sweet I have featured it!
When I was asked to make an artwork, I was asked to think, ‘what inspires me about Sydney?’ The food scene was a no brainer. My inspiration starts at the farmer’s market with seasonal produce. Whether I am cooking professionally or in my own kitchen, it’s where the magic happens.
My background includes formal training as a chef as well as a pastry chef, so celebrating all things sweet and savoury made sense to me.