“Tom and I met in a comedy club in Camden. The moment he walked in, I asked if he had three pounds for the stripper…not sure if I am proud or embarrassed!” says artist Beth Cullen-Kerridge.
Who would’ve thought that what started with a witty one line would evolve into an incredible relationship that sees both Beth and her husband, winner of GQ’s 2014 Chef of the Year, Tom Kerridge, become extremely successful in their respective passions.
‘Supersuits’, at Gallery Different, details their struggle to achieve Tom’s dream of owning a Michelin starred pub, portraying the various ‘suits’ who ridiculed their plans. Ten years on The Hand and Flowers pub in Berkshire is an enormous success with not one, but two Michelin stars. “The drive to make the pub work was incredible, there was a moment I thought we were busy fools but the authorities would have had to drag us out…Besides, it was all we had”, she says.
After selling a sculpture to the Stoke City Council, and with a small loan from family and friends, they had enough money to make the pub theirs winning their first star within the year and becoming the first British pub to have two in 2011.
This exhibition is a commentary bureaucratic male dominance, symbolising the ridicule they faced when trying to secure loans and the planning obstructions that threatened to ruin their creativity. Each sculpture is a type of ‘suit’ we face, the dismissive, the suffocating and the covert, that ultimate stifle dreams.
In the face of such adversity many couples often drift apart but their shared passion for their careers is what has held them together. “I love and understand that enormous drive he has, so when we do have time together we make it count whether we are in decompress mode at the beach in Whitstable or a Sunday night by the fire”.
Since graduating from the Royal College of Art Beth has been commissioned for public displays and solo exhibitions, and has worked with renowned artists like Eduardo Paolozzi and Sir Antony Caro who was her mentor for seven years.
Beth cites the human race as her biggest inspiration, appreciating how even though at times we are “vulnerable and fantastically stupid”, we have the innate ability to surprise ourselves to achieve our goals, a quality that Beth and Tom share.
Supersuits is on at Gallery Different until 1 November.
Photographs courtesy of Nigel Chapman