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Cooking with Artists: Elizabeth David & Benton End

The cookery writer Elizabeth David was a child when she first met Arthur Lett Haines and Cedric Morris: the artists were friends of her mother and frequent visitors to her childhood home in Sussex. Later, she exchanged recipes with Lett Haines – who ruled the kitchen at Benton End – and acquired art by Morris. The jewel of her small art collection was The Eggs, a painting she bought in 1953 and which later provided the colour illustration for An Omelette and a Glass of Wine (1984), a volume of her collected journalism.

The writer and art critic Thomas Marks has been researching Elizabeth David’s collection of antiquarian cookery books now housed at the Warburg Institute in London. In this talk, Thomas explores the relationship between David and her artist friends – and the place of food at Benton End and in Morris’s art.

Image: Elizabeth David – Cookery writer. 1969. Photograph: Empics/PA
  • Thomas Marks

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    Thomas Marks

    Thomas Marks is a writer, art critic and co-founder of Marks|Calil, a cultural consultancy that provides strategic advice to international museums and art businesses. From 2013–21, he was Editor of Apollo magazine, among the leading publications on the global art and museum sectors. Thomas is an Associate Fellow at the Warburg Institute, University of London, where he is researching the history of food – with a focus on Elizabeth David’s bequest of historical cookery books to the Warburg Library. As an art critic, he writes frequently about contemporary painting, Italian art and the relationship between art and food. Prior to his career in arts journalism, he studied English literature at the University of Cambridge before completing a DPhil on the relationship between poetry and architecture at the University of Oxford. He is a Trustee of Art UK and sits on the Advisory Board of Gerry’s Pompeii.