In her beautifully composed photographs, Marian Drew includes the lifeless bodies of Australian fauna collected from the side of the road. The photographs represent a meeting of Europe and Australia through the insertion of wallabies, kangaroos, and possums into the still life tradition. The images assume a painterly tone achieved by long exposures and careful application of light via torch. This process allows Drew to highlight important elements in the composition as well as experiment with shadow as a form.

Marian Drew, Crow with Salt, 2006
digital image on German etching paper, 112 x 134 cm, from the series Art Fair

Marian Drew was directly influenced by the traditional still life paintings she studied while living in Germany. Ranked the lowest in the hierarchy of genres created in the 17th century, still lifes were considered to be merely a record of inanimate objects. The Dutch depicted opulent banquets with a seemingly endless bounty spilling over the edges of tables while the French presented an ordered and contained tableaux of goods. The fare was delivered to the viewer to be visually consumed and became a dialogue between a prosperous society and their material possessions. The still life genre featuring small game and poultry acted as a signifier of wealth. In Germany in the 15th-century, hunting rights were only granted to the aristocracy. The still lifes demonstrated not only their control over nature by commanded their authoritative stature in society. This theme is continued by Drew who examines the dominating relationship between the urban landscape and it’s natural fauna. Life is juxtaposed against death and contemporary cultural identity is explored through the traditions of the still life.

Marian Drew, Kingfisher with Chinese Cloth and Strawberries, 2009
archival pigment on cotton paper, 112 x 134 cm, from the series Birds

While driving down a dusty road in the short documentary Australiana, Drew states that in Australia, citizens are not encouraged to pick up roadkill because it acts as food for other native animals. With this in mind, her compositions take on a whole new meaning. What we consider to be inedible waste becomes a meal for another. Although I cannot appreciate four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie, the blushing strawberries and the sunny lemon would make a tempting dessert to set before a king.

The photograph of the Berry & Lemon pie was created using the same methods developed by Marian Drew.

{Berry & Lemon Cheese Pie with a Lemon Butter Crust}

1 punnet fresh strawberries
1/3 c honey
1 lemon
3 TB sugar
1 pkg cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1 punnet fresh berries (blueberries or blackberries)

Prepare the Lemon Butter Crust (recipe below) and have ready and chilled. In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese, vanilla, sugar, and tsp lemon zest. Cream with an electric mixer until light and fluffy and the sugar has dissolved. Spread onto the bottom of the baked pie crust.

Divide the strawberries and cut half into quarters and place in a new bowl. With a hand blender puree the strawberries and mix in the juice from half of the lemon and the honey (alternatively you could mash the strawberries with the back of a fork). Pour the mixture into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile slice the remaining strawberries. Once the strawberry mixture is boiling begin to stir continuously to keep from burning. Cook for two minutes and take off the heat. Add the remaining strawberries and blueberries, mix, and pour over the lemon cheese layer in the pie.

Chill the pie in the refrigerator until the berries have set an a slice will hold it’s shape (about 3 hours). Serve cold.

{Lemon Butter Crust}

1 1/4 c plain flour
1/2 c unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 TB water

Place the flour, butter, lemon zest, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Begin rubbing the butter into the flour working it until the mixture resembles wet sand and clumps together. Add 1 TB of water and mix turning out onto a floured surface and kneading slightly. Form into a round disk and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Work the dough into a 1 cm round on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Fit into a buttered pie pan. If the pastry breaks up you can fit it back together by pressing it into the pie tin. Ensure there is an even layer of pastry within the tin. To create the decorative edge roll the remaining pastry into small balls and press around the edge of the tin. Once assembled in the pie tin, place the pastry in the freezer.

Heat the oven to 180C. Remove the tin from the freezer and place a sheet of parchment paper over it and pour in dried beans or rice to weight the pastry. This will keep the base from rising. Slide into the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the baking weights and prick the base of the crust with a fork to release steam. Return the crust into the oven for an additional 10 minutes until golden. Add non-cooked filling.