The World on Her Plate
Better Photography|March 2021
Gilat Orkin’s artistic, and engaging sandwich sculptures weave together the best of creativity, history, and flavours. Nilofer Khan explores.
Nilofer Khan
When you were a child, do you recall instances where you would simply refuse to eat? You would throw a tantrum, try to run away from the dining table, or press your lips together with such force that your entire face would turn red. It would often happen because you disliked the flavour or texture of certain dishes and ingredients. But sometimes, it was also the appearance or the aroma that affected your appetite.

Something similar happened with Gilat Orkin. Her daughter Eylon, then in elementary school, would return home with unfinished lunch boxes. It went on for a week, which deeply troubled Gilat. So, she became extremely imaginative with the way she would prepare Eylon’s meals. “I realised that when an object looks interesting to children, they will be curious about it,” she says. “I had the idea to combine the desire to eat with the desire to learn something about the world at large.”

Humble Beginnings

When the project was in its infancy, Gilat, who used to run a small business as a chocolatier, was creating simpler sculptures of inanimate objects such as a PlayStation remote, a sewing machine, a shirt, amongst others. One day, out of sheer curiosity, she decided to make a portrait. Around this period, she was also uploading her work on Instagram, which was slowly, yet steadily garnering appreciation. “My viewers loved the portrait on social media so much that it propelled me to dedicate this work to their creation. Since I wanted my daughter to learn about world history and cultures, I chose to focus my work on people who have made a significant impact on the world,” she explains.

Eventually, her work began to attract the attention of popular food artists residing across the country, who welcomed her to the local art gatherings. Through these conversations with like-minded contemporaries, Gilat began to learn about the intricacies of food art, which helped her to transform her work. “From then on, the sandwiches started to have elaborate backdrops. I also chose to include my point of view about these figures, adding a tinge of humour, and sometimes, criticism,” she says. By then, Eylon had stopped consuming these sandwiches. However, Gilat decided to continue this work for herself. “I firmly believe in learning things every day. Through these food sculptures, I am not only gaining more knowledge about various cultures, but also challenging myself to push creative boundaries.”

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