Previous Life as a Cheese maker
4 years ago I became a cheese maker. I did a course and that was all I needed to work in something so desirably far away from a computer and a chair, I nearly forgot how to use them. I made cheese in Victoria and the hopped over to Wiltshire, UK for a year churning curds. We made blue, soft, stinky, creamy and all deliciously endorphin driven cheeses. Most days I was arms-deep in whey and loved it. It was rewarding, both physically and emotionally. They were Farmhouse cheese makers which means you produce the cheese 'on-farm'. But it's not all about creating a divine product (and eating a lot of it) it's monotonous, repetitive and often lonely work. Most operations need small teams to make the cheese and massive vats to do the bulk. Socialising occurs at markets where every weekend I got up early to travel 3 hours to various London farmers markets. Generally speaking, markets are great. You get to have the satisfaction of making something people not only want to eat but also buy as a gift and something special. Which it is!
In 2015 I helped judge the most respected International cheese show in (sorry France) Nantwich, UK and was lucky enough to have a very talented and funny reporter on my panel. This is the article he wrote about it (click on caption beneath image). It's well worth the read for anyone interested in how cheese shows work and for a laugh!
However, art has always been my first (and let's be serious, only true) love. Whilst I toiled in humid factories flipping truckles and cleaning out moulds, I discovered an Artist who paints, you guessed it..'cheese portraits'. Not only cheese but charcuterie and other delightful, essentially raw ingredients. His name is Mike Geno and while he lives in the States, he sells his work to the global audience. Pretty sure he has a niche subject.
At the end of the 2 years spent in dairy-land, I would find myself more inclined to visit a gallery and paint in my spare time than peruse cheese mongers and turn out every-day ricotta. So I gave in my apron and white wellies and headed back to the art world.
In the vein of Geno, I started painting a bit of cheese. I thought it was a much better currency to pay people with and I wasn't ready to put cheese in the dustbin just yet. Here is a thank you cheese portrait I did for Matt Steele (of Cornelius Cheesemongers in Melbourne) his favourite cheese - a Roquefort. www.corneliuscheese.com.au
So while I will always be keen to keep abreast of the cheese world. I am far happier in the art world, making my own way and not following cows around.