The tones – I think that’s what attracted me at the beginning. It’s not like some of his other paintings which are very dynamic and the brush strokes are crazy, it’s quite calm, and what I found interesting was that it’s a study. Turner apparently did this is in a day. He sat down. He was there, he was looking at things, it’s a work in progress, and it’s very similar to the way I work. I have to go and visit the place. I have to go and meet the people, do the research and then I always have my notebook. I love doing little illustrations and painting. It’s a great way of jotting down ideas. It’s not the best looking fish.
I took away some inspiration. It’s quick pickle sardines. The colours, the smell of the sea; it’s all in this dish. Super easy to make. I’ve got some fresh sardines. The colours are quite similar to the tones which were in the painting; you’ve got the grey, the silver, bit of blue, there’s even a tiny bit of pink in there, and when you look at the painting there is a really, really subtle bit of pink. I’m going to make my pickling liquid; white wine vinegar, some cider vinegar, sugar, two teaspoons of salt, ten pepper corns more or less, two juniper berries and the final thing is lemon zest, really fresh citrus note.
It’s simple; they’re not many ingredients like they’re not many colours in this painting. So I’ve taken that simplicity and put that in my recipe too. Turner, for me, was somebody who was very hands on. He was experiencing everything. With his storms you certainly felt that he was out there in the storm, that way he could translate everything into his picture like a method painter.
Make sure the sugar has dissolved, and once it comes to the boil just take it off the heat and you want to cool it. It’s just that thin bit of colour which is going to come through, and then my sardines. You might just want to check there aren’t any bones left. When they’re done you can start putting them in your jar. Don’t forget the lovely pickling liquid. You have to get stuck in, get your hands messy with this a little bit, just like Turner does with his paintings. Already looking beautiful, you know, you’ve got all these fantastic colours.
So, my pickles have been in the fridge for six hours, they’re ready to go, and now it’s all about the presentation. I’m going to serve it with a nice piece of sour dough bread. Butter it.
The way I work is I start to build an idea in my head and I’ll draw it out, and then I go to the kitchen and that’s where the testing starts. I like that work in progress, you know, you can do your doodles in the sketch book and it develops into this final piece, that journey. With Turner I, kind of, associated that similar feeling. I think there are a lot of journeys with Turner’s work and that’s something I like to do as well. My dish inspired by the great painter of light: quick pickled sardines.