Annie Collinge and Rottingdean Bazaar create food-themed optical illusions through clever styling

The long time collaborators are back at it again, this time in series called Table for One, made for Luncheon magazine.

1 May 2020


Sometimes, you see an image and it’s love at first site. And that’s exactly what happened when we stumbled upon a photograph of a girl on Instagram, wearing a red coat from her ears and over her legs – her arms rounded – and with a plant behind her head instead of hair. Together forming an optical illusion: a tomato.

The image was on London-based photographer Annie Collinge’s account and was part of, we discovered, an entirely food-themed shoot for Luncheon in collaboration with Rottingdean Bazaar, who Annie collaborates with on a regular basis. Titled Table for One, it sees Tin Gao shapeshifting from a tomato to a carrot, ice cream, banana and a delicious-looking sandwich, all styled by Rottingdean Bazaar (AKA James Theseus Buck and Luke Brooks) using clothes to form the shape of each food.

“The process of making each image was fairly complex as it involved finding all the right clothes to make into each food item, hoping that when we put it all together on the day the idea came across,” Annie tells us. “It involved quite a large amount of prep and lots of shlepping around to different PRs in the torrential rain.” The shoot itself took place at James’ dad’s house in Seaford – “there is no team or interns, just us and James’ family milling about in the background,” Annie adds. And they systemically went through each shot, perfecting the shape the clothes formed, and how Tin participated in helping to create the image.

Fittingly, the day ended with Annie dropping Tin back at the train station to head back to London, and James’ stepmum cooking them all spaghetti bolognese.

Over the years, Annie, James and Luke have worked on several projects together, including some images which were included a book for Paul Smith featuring people called Paul Smith, an editorial for Dazed featuring Matty Bovan and look books for Rottingdean Bazaar’s own collections. On what keeps them continuing to work together Annie says: “We work well together because we have a similar outlook on how the work needs to be dictated by the idea and not the process. I think they have a great way of looking at the world in a general way, and not being clouded by other peoples’ perception of what’s good and what’s not and it’s been very useful for me.”


Annie Collinge and Rottingdean Bazaar for Luncheon magazine: Table for One

The results are fantastic: weird, sometimes a little creepy, but always filled with props and interesting characters. These are things Annie has collected over the years, at car boot sales (“before Covid!”) and on eBay which spark ideas. “I think my work is colourful and slightly depressing – which probably sums up my general demeanour too,” Annie adds. “I think I’ve always found kindred spirits in people that have a similar tone to their work.”

Growing up, Annie was “one of those annoying children that knew they wanted to go to art school for as long as I could remember, I’m dyslexic (same old story) and I didn’t learn to read till I was eight,” she recalls. Luckily, her creative interests were nurtured and her dad bought her a developing tank and created a darkroom in the cellar. “It was next to the boiler and was so hot you felt like one of those rotisserie chickens,” she remembers. “I think the thing that attracted me to photography is that I’m quite impatient, I’m not bad at making things with my hands but I find that I’m always trying to race to the finish line.” Photography, therefore, provided an immediate form of creating.

Annie’s portfolio, in turn, is unpredictable and meandering, although that’s not to say there isn’t a consistent visual language or tone. The notion that things never quite turn out as planned is, in fact, what excites her most about the medium. Aesthetically, she traces her influences back to books she read as a child, full of illustrations “with strange undertones that slightly terrified me.” This included Norman the Doorman by Don Freenman and The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs.

With a practice that relies so heavily on her weekends exploring car boot sales and markets, understandably, Annie is looking forward to being able to “leave my house again and it not feel like I’m in 28 Days Later. And we’re looking forward to the bonkers work that will ensure once she can!

GalleryAnnie Collinge and Rottingdean Bazaar for Luncheon magazine: Table for One

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.

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