Soft art is not uncommon. Claes Oldenburg is perhaps the most obvious exponent but Joseph Beuys often included large pieces of felt in his work. Museum Rijswijk itself has its important textile show every couple of years and it was here at the 2021 show that we first saw the work of British artist Kate Jenkins who makes cakes and bread and other food stuff.
Now although a lot of Oldenburg’s soft sculptures involved confectionery, it was on a giant scale in which the piece of cake, or whatever, took on a whole new identity. Ms Jenkins’ work is all same-size and from not very far away, indistinguishable from the real thing. So you have a variety of delicious buns and biscuits and a whole range of bread which any German baker would be proud to display. Good though they look, they would not be so good to eat, they would make a very chewy and indigestible tea time. And why? Because they are all made of wool, all knitted. So you have knitted bagels, knitted Danish pastries, knitted croissants, knitted profiteroles and knitted jam Swiss rolls. On a more savoury note there are knitted sardines on toast and knitted Dutch herrings, complete with knitted chopped onion. There are even knitted ice-creams.
The main part of the exhibition is laid out like a café with tables and chairs (not knitted) and crisp white table-cloths. You can choose you inedible meal from the counter stacked high with tea-time treats, some on cake stands, some under a glass dome, all looking absolutely delicious.
In the other main area is Kate’s Cones, the ice cream parlour whose wares I wouldn’t fancy even if it was real. Around the walls are small individual pieces and lots of photographic blow-ups. Great fun and well worth a visit. Michael Hasted 5th December 2022
CAFÉ KATE continues at Museum Rijswijk until 12th March 2023