February hasn’t felt like February this year as I've been lucky enough to undertake a residency in a windy château on top of a rock near the Pyrénées. It has mainly been about Lunch; painting still lives of the kitchen table as it ebbs and flows, long conversations about our practices over squid & red wine stew, walking through French supermarkets - nothing short of heaven, finding outrageous 1970's French recipe books and researching the perfect Salad Niçoise. But I have also spent the days thinking and writing more seriously about what Lunch is and what it means to us all in preparation for a very special new project.

From my sketchbook...

This is Matilda Mercer, one of the artists with me on the residency, making us Duck á l’Orange one stormy evening. The meal was made and served as a performance exploring forms of caregiving after she met a man on Highbury Fields walking his dog Marcus who told her that he cooked Marcus Duck á l’Orange every day. Dressed as Marcus’ owner - just in from a dog walk - she prepared our duck to a loud score of Vivaldi while the rain poured outside. We ate our Duck á L’Orange, as Marcus would have and our conversation turned again to caregiving, invisible labour and the creeping exchange of money for that care.

From my studio wall...

February's painting from the studio wall is Medlar, Study One. Part of a triptych of Medlar studies, these paintings deal with themes of seasonality and our constant capacity for revival. To see some more of my paintings click here

Medlars have always felt important to me; a Medlar tree in the front garden giving its name to my grandparent’s house was always imbued with invented folklore. When making my recipe book Medlar Kitchen, recipes for my family with my Grandma, recipes for how to cajole Medlars into different forms kept cropping up. They need some care and some wrangling but in the end they are sturdy and delicious.

The ants, which have now started wandering onto other paintings too, first showed up with a chance encounter with a wonderful apple and shortly after a yoghurt pot 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜

Would you rather?...with the Artists of Quielle Winter Residency

Matilda Mercer

Would you rather dauphinoise or Jacket potato? I think I need some context here, when am I eating it, what with, how often? Is it one potato for the rest of my life? My gut is saying Jacket, I love that chestnutish flavour.

What recipe do you cook for your loved ones? I seem to be making fish stews at all major family events, my brother's wedding I stood over a cauldron of Bouillabaisse for good hour and when my great aunty turned 80 I made a different stew with delicious fresh Devon fish, which earned me the reputation of ‘very capable woman’.

What do you cook when you’re sick? Spicy pan-Asian soup


Ella West

Would you rather dauphinoise or Jacket potato?  I love jacket potatoes but I ate too many from my secondary school canteen. Dauphinoise is a new concept for me, it feels sophisticated (what I imagine fancy people might eat) and so seems alluring. Plus cream x cheese is just good isn’t it.

What recipe do you cook for your loved ones?  Lasagna is a layered affair of beautiful stodge. I like the admin that's required to cook the Bolognese sauce and the béchamel simultaneously, and placing these along with the lasagna sheets makes me think of sedimentary rocks forming on the seabed.

What do you cook when you’re sick?  Sausage and mash feels somehow like the least effort for maximum return when I’m not feeling well. It’s warm, comforting and sends you right back to sleep.


Rosalind Wilson

Would you rather dauphinoise or Jacket potato?  Jacket potato. Without a shadow of a doubt. Although in my teens dauphinoise became a subject of my desire when waitressing and discovering the elevated cuisine served to those at polo clubs and private dinner parties, there is nothing that makes me feel more at home than a jacket potato.

What recipe do you cook for your loved ones? Roast dinner. Growing up it was a staple feature of my Nana and grandad’s visits. Aunty Bessie’s roast potatoes, Bisto gravy, carrot and turnip mash, cauliflower cheese… no trimmings spared. It was pure love. Now I make it from scratch and like to show off new tricks to my family.

What do you cook when you’re sick? Chicken soup. But also probably just toast.