Laura Callaghan mixes food with nihilism in Apocalypse Chow: A Feast at the End of the World

Imbued with a subtle sense of unease, Laura Callaghan's latest exhibition in Dublin brings together illustration and Bacchanalia to make a unique artistic comment on climate change.

Laura Callaghan is an Irish illustrator living in Belfast. Her work is largely hand-painted using watercolour and gouache. Part fashion illustration, part satire, her images are ostensibly bright and beautiful but cultivate a sense of unease and humour.

As well as undertaking work for clients such as Nike, Samsung and The BBC, she regularly creates and exhibits personal work. Her latest show, Apocalypse Chow: A Feast at the End of the World, is on display at Hen's Teeth in Dublin until this Wednesday. And it's quite something.

The exhibition consists of an immersive installation and series of dinners – all designed by Laura – imagining a feast at the end of the world. It's a unique and intoxicating mix of intricate watercolour, gouache and pen imagery along with a Bacchanalian-inspired table-scape and installation.

Bizarre events

"I've taken inspiration from the 15 signs of Doomsday, popularised in the Middle Ages, which chronicle the bizarre events that are said to occur a fortnight before the end of the world," the artist explains. "These new works combine my two main interests, food and nihilism, and explore media such as ceramics, screen-printed textiles, watercolour work and silk banners."

Despite being inspired by the past, her exhibit also looks forward to the future, exploring contemporary concerns about climate change and digital surveillance via a riot of colour and chaos.

In one piece, a lone figure sits in a custom car interior, seemingly unaware of the disasters taking place outside. In another, a dreamlike dinner party takes place.

Pieces in the show represent an alternative, tongue-in-cheek list of signs which culminate in a celebration of the end: a lavish banquet table replete with custom tableware and textiles which conjure up the ecstasy and freedom of Bacchanalia to face the Apocalypse.

Create your own narrative

The show also includes larger format works, encouraging the viewer to examine the intricate details and create their own narrative within the work. Attendees are welcome to pull up a pew at the banquet table to become fully immersed in the show.

This weekend, some visitors even got to eat in the gallery during a series of ticketed dinners featuring a five-course menu. The food's all gone now, but the exhibition is still available for a few more days.

Apocalypse Chow: A Feast at the End of the World by Laura Callaghan is at Hen's Teeth, Blackpitts, Dublin 8, D08A9FD, from 12noon-6pm, until Wednesday 20 September Merchandise is also available to buy in-store and from the Hen's Teeth online store.


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