Skip navigation

Baby Cake

Baby Cake (2016) was a live performance with a baby cake, plates and napkins. It was part of Art on a Boat, curated by Rekha Sameer, on the Peagreen on the Regent's Canal in King's Cross, London on 30th October 2016.

Baby Cake was a live performance during which Philip Lee offered, dressed formally in evening dress, pieces of a cake in the form of a baby. Visitors were encouraged to join him in feasting on the cake, which was made of meaty-looking sponge covered in skin-coloured icing, with red jam that issued like blood from the cake when cut.

In 1729, during the Irish famine, Jonathan Swift published 'A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Public', a satirical essay proposing that poor Irish people solve their economic problems by selling their children as food.

"I have been assured … that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout."

Swift's essay drew attention to the pitilessness of the rich and powerful towards the poor and powerless. Baby Cake (2016) is a reflection on the still enormous differences in life chances between rich and poor children, between children brought up in safe places and those who experience war, and the continuing ruthlessness of the powerful towards them.

9 Photographs by Cally Trench

The film was edited by Cally Trench in 2017.

The cake was made by Vicky Lee (1958 - 2018).

Return to Portfolio