Let’s Get Cooking

A Reflection on Uncovering Beauty for Those you Love-

Seeing Beauty

in the Everyday Kitchen

 BLOG POST BY ANUSHKA FERNANDO-GOONETILLEKE

At the height of the pandemic, as I stood at the kitchen counter carrying my toddler on one arm and chopping vegetables with the other I often felt physically and mentally drained by the exhaustion of everyday life and by the limitations imposed by the pandemic. But the instant my eyes rested on the vibrant colours of the vegetables before me, I found that the deepest recesses of my mind would be awash with joy and peace that was indescribable. A feeling similar to what I experienced when I watched the setting sun or a masterpiece of a brilliant artist found in an art gallery, experiences barred by the virus and the restrictions that came with it. I experienced in the kitchen, what Kandinsky termed the “psychic power of colour” that causes “an emotional vibration”. Kandinsky explains…

“Just as the physical sensation produced by the coldness of ice when it penetrates further arouses a stronger sensation, so can the superficial impression of colour deepen into a lasting reaction” – Wassily Kandinsky

The sting of being disconnected from the pleasures I sought such as meeting with others, and spending time outdoors in our favourite hang out spots didn’t vanish, I realized that the kitchen was more than simply a place of preparing food. It became a museum for the senses, a school for the children to learn about exotic flavours, scintillating aromas, the bounty and generosity of nature, the interconnectedness of the eco system, and was a canvas that stretched across all senses to consume and create art and beauty.

“ If you hold close to nature, to what is simple in it, to the small things people hardly see and which all of a sudden can become great and immeasurable; if you have this love for what is slight, and quite unassumingly, as a servant, seek to win the confidence of what seems poor – then everything will grow easier, more unified and somehow more conciliatory, not perhaps in the intellect, which, amazed, remains a step behind, but in your deepest consciousness, watchfulness and knowledge.” -Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

Being so immersed in these everyday ingredients that accompanied me in my kitchen, my intimacy with them grew and I started noticing their contours, colours, shapes and textures. I linked them to my strength of creativity and expressing love and started creating art on plates for the pleasure and delight of my children. This form of art requires no tools, prior experience or a lot of time. Sometimes I ask my children what design they want me to create, at other times, I express a design on my mind and still at other times, I look at a picture on the internet and try to replicate it or create my own based on the original. Bringing art and beauty to the everyday in this way elevates my mood and emotions and that of my children. Eventually, as consumers of art, they too start “seeing” and “noticing” the details and beauty of everyday things around them and engage and enjoy the process of creating, whether it is with food or other material.

It dawned on me that although the art galleries of the world were closed (because of COVID), I could still be a consumer and creator of art right in the heart of the humble kitchen.

“Beauty does not bring happiness to the one who possesses it, but to the one who loves and admires it” – Herman Hesse

Learning to see beauty is a gift we can and should gift ourselves. It is a mood booster and gives rise to positive emotions when our mind feels burdened and restless. To be moved by the artistry of nature whether it is the festival of colours found in a bowl of fresh salad, or the markings on a mackerel on a dinner plate, or the symmetry of a strawberry, is to embrace the gift of beauty that is freely and constantly available to us.

-Anushka Fernando-Goonetilleke

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