Book Arts

Sarah Bodman & Nancy Campbell : Dinner and a Rose 2010

An artist’s book produced in an edition of 20, commissioned as part of the University of Dundee’s AHRC funded project, Poetry Beyond Text: Vision, Text and Cognition.

Sarah Bodman and poet Nancy Campbell produced Dinner and a Rose, an artist’s book in homage to the novel The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith.

Sarah and Nancy were commissioned to create the work for Poetry Beyond Text: Vision, Text, Cognition, to investigate how readers respond to visual aspects of poetry. Highsmith charts her murderous hero Tom Ripley’s greed for the good life using culinary themes. Ripley’s character is defined by what he chooses to eat and drink, from devil-may-care martinis in Mongibello to penitential hot milk in Rome. Sarah and Nancy decided to focus on Highsmith’s menus in the commissioned work. Inspired by Poetry Beyond Text‘s interest in experiment, they recreated Ripley’s meals in a live performance.

Sarah prepared a delicious, if sinister, dinner, for twelve guests, with a thirteenth place set for the absent Tom Ripley. Every food mentioned by Highsmith was served, from cold chicken in aspic to sole veronique, and every drink mixed (even Dubonnet!). The dinner lasted over twelve hours. All the night’s conversations were recorded and Nancy used the transcriptions as collage material, creating a series of 18 poems. Sarah photographed Ripley’s setting for each course; images and poems partner each other in the finished work.

Sarah and Nancy were delighted with the project’s success and are now continuing the ‘novel dinner’ as an annual event. This year they worked with The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland and in 2012 they will be producing a tribute to Donna Tartt‘s The Secret History.

The video shown here records the dinner party hosted (over a day) by Sarah Bodman and Nancy Campbell serving all the food and drink consumed in Patricia Highsmith‘s Ripley novels. With thanks to Simon, Tom, Paul, Lilla, Natalie, Angie and Margaret.

Edition of 20, digital print, clothbound, silver tooled title.

See Nancy ‘s entry on The Gourmet Mr Ripley at