My Homage to Childhood Thinking

Image Essay by Carl Warner

A Photographer Creates Fanciful Landscapes Out of Food


Stilton Cottage


Broccoli Forest


Coconut Haystacks




Chocolate Express


Salmon Sea


Artist's Statement

As an only child, I spent hours in my bedroom developing my imagination. In the absence of siblings, there wasn’t much else to do. My parents weren’t perturbed by my self-enforced solitude, and I never found reason to think they’d want me to do otherwise.

Carl at WorkI immersed myself in a world of imaginative thinking, where my bedroom was a cabin on the USS Enterprise or Captain Nemo’s Nautilus. I invented scenarios and role play that exercised my imagination the way an athlete exercises a muscle. I began to draw on large sheets of paper, creating worlds filled with everything from sailing ships to space ships. I designed futuristic houses and painted alien landscapes, and I pored over the works of Roger Dean, Patrick Woodroffe, and Salvador Dali, all of whom fueled my creative thinking.

I firmly believe that the effort to escape from boredom leads the human mind to all forms of creative thinking, and that, sadly, the children of today are rarely able to become bored. Every waking moment seems to be filled by some form of multimedia distraction.

The scenes I’ve created out of food over the past decade are, I suppose, an homage to my childhood thinking. To lose the child within us is to forget the song we first began to dance to. We’re on this planet for a short space in time, and there are so many of us on the dance floor milling around in the silence.

I feel greatly privileged that my work has brought joy and inspiration to a great number of people of all ages and cultures. I hope they’ll remember their song and start their hips wiggling once more.


carl warnerBorn in Liverpool, England, in 1963, Carl Warner now lives in Kent and works from his London-based studio near London Bridge’s colorful food emporium, Borough Market.

Having worked as a photographer in the advertising business for 25 years, Carl began making landscapes out of food just over a decade ago. His love of photography, food, and landscape has inspired a body of work that's since been exhibited and published around the world.

His first book, Carl Warner's Food Landscapes (Abrams, 2010), will be followed in the spring of 2012 by a children's book, Carl Warner—A World of Food (Abrams). He is also working on an animated TV series for children that aims to do for food education what Sesame Street has done for numeracy and literacy.



Love your work! I might as well have been an only child -- wedged as I was between a brother 14 years my senior and one 8 years my junior. Spent many hours alone in my room reading and imaging with dolls, dollhouses and pretending. I love your words -- "To lose the child within us is to forget the song we first began to dance to."

Carl: What a trip, as we used to say. I was at first impressed with the imaginative accuracy of what I initially took to be paintings. But the reality is even more impressive. A salmon sea? Fabulous.

As the oldest of 10 children, I guess I didn't have your childhood advantages. (We used to pray for you "only children," for reasons that completely eluded me. You guys got it all come Christmas.)

Nevertheless, I like to think the childhood dance can survive anything, including a crowded, if loving, house.

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