Farmers' markets are great. In London, they fulfil all our inner-city fantasies of organic fruit and vegetables grown lovingly by beefy, ruddy-cheeked country-dwellers with comedy Somerset accents. It's all about getting back to roots via root vegetables. Really dirty potatoes are always popular but Dulwich being Dulwich saw slightly more dressed up tubers at the Dulwich Farmers' Market last Sunday.
Sunday 25 February was the 4th Starchy Gallery competition, an annual contest to find the best potato done up to look like a well-known work of art or a celebrity. Last year's Stephen Fry is a greasy hoot. All entries cost £1.00 and the proceeds went to the Sydenham Garden Project. Rosie Lee and Anita Weston have organised this intriguing "dress up your root vegetable" contest for four years and the equally intriguing East Dulwich art venue Space Station 65 has hosted the potatoes in their windows for two years.
Anyone can contribute their tuber-based work of art to the gallery even though the competition has ended. There were no prizes anyway, just the just "the joy of winning, being creative and having a giggle," so in that spirit we would like our readers to start their best Blue Peter attempts with sticky-back plastic and drinking straws on a handy King Edward or Maris Piper - and we want pictures.
Potatoes must be adorned and adulterated to resemble either a celebrity or a famous work of art. We particularly like the use of new potatoes for the well-known tits out Delacroix painting of Liberty Leading the People, which won its creator R. Lee second place in the 2006 competition. La Liberty's right breast is a distinct shade of green, which is a sign of excess chlorophyll in the potato, produced by exposure to either very cold or very warm temperatures. Green parts of a potato (leaves, stem, green spots) contain solanine, a bitter poisonous alkaloid , so the greener your potato, the more toxic it is. Breast is not best in this case.
We reckon you, our buzzy band of readers can do better: anyone who can do a potato montage of Van Gogh's The Potato Eaters and stick it in Space Station 65's window gets an extra big bag of chips from us.
The Starchy Gallery, at Space Station 65 in East Dulwich, until 18
Image of Delacroix’s Liberty Leading The People reinterpreted for potato by R. Lee courtesy of the Starchy Gallery.