Melbourne artist and designer Gemma Leslie is very busy. She runs her own online bed linen business by the name of Scottie, and recently launched a not-for-profit culinary poster shop called Food For Everyone, which donates 100% of its profits to the food charity FareShare. We got in touch with Gemma to chat about her latest endeavour, Food For Everyone, what we can do to help vulnerable people relying on food relief, and her dream dinner menu.
Tell us about your charity Food For Everyone:
Gemma Leslie: Food For Everyone is a not-for-profit culinary poster shop. My mission is to raise funds for FareShare, and bring joy into people’s homes through art and colour. Food For Everyone is born out of love for sharing food with family and friends.
FareShare is a national food charity with a simple mission. It rescues food that would otherwise go to landfill and uses volunteers to cook it into free, nutritious meals for people in crisis. FareShare’s vision is for a society where food is not wasted, and no one goes hungry. FareShare started in 2001 when a pastry chef named Guido started cooking 300 pies every Saturday morning for local charities. It now runs Australia’s largest charity kitchens in Melbourne and Brisbane.
They’re now cooking more than 40,000 meals every week to support the growing number of people relying on emergency food relief. Their healthy casseroles, curries, soups and savory pastries are provided free to isolated communities, low-income families and people experiencing homelessness, among many others struggling to get by. Every donation we receive helps to improve the health and wellbeing of someone doing it tough.
What inspired you to make a difference with a food charity?
GL: When the residents from the Melbourne Towers got locked down due to COVID, they were not allowed to leave their home to get food. The towers are home to thousands of people. They were provided food, but residents reported that the initial communication and support was slow. FareShare and others jumped in to support by preparing and delivering meals to the residents and this sparked my idea of raising funds for FareShare. I was painting at the time and thought I could partner with some friends who are local cooks, to design posters with their recipes that we could sell, with a view to giving all funds raised to FareShare.
How important is the act of sharing a meal with family and friends?
GL: Coming together and sharing a meal would have to be the most communal and binding act around the world, attached with wonderful memories. Eating a healthy meal each day is a human right, and knowing that there are thousands of people that don’t have that available to them breaks my heart. It’s made me want to help. FareShare cooks more than 6,000 free meals a day for various charities and social enterprises including soup vans, homeless shelters, women’s refuges and community food banks.
How can people help fight food waste and those relying on food relief? GL:You can do two valuable things, either donate or volunteer. FareShare and other food banks rely heavily on volunteers each day to help with distribution – they are the heart and soul of the charity. There is also a big amount of support that comes from donations from the community, corporate, and philanthropy which helps them to be able to run the charity. They don’t get much support from the government, so these kinds of donations are so important to put meals on the table for people in need. These bigger food banks partner with larger supermarkets and are in touch with the hospitality industry so they have their finger on the pulse when there is surplus food.
What is the creative process behind your illustrations?
GL: I’m a self-taught painter, formally trained as a graphic designer. I like to combine the two in my practice. Typically, I start with black paint so I can focus on the form of the object that I am painting. I usually paint the same object 3-4 times before I am happy with it. Then from there, I scan my paintings into the computer, and this is where I start the process and layout and colour. I tend to design a selection of colourways and layouts that involve typography in an A2 format before I am happy with my piece I’m working on. Creating the final work digitally pushes me to create bolder and more considered work.
If you were to host a dinner party, what would be on the menu?
GL: I do love a dinner party – especially hosting one at my home! I tend to lean towards Italian cuisine. I’d start with some anchovy and pickled shallots with olive oil on a baguette. For a main dish, I can’t go past a spaghetti vongole with garlic and fresh parsley, with a simple side salad. To finish I usually like to serve some fresh seasonal fruit, or if I’m feeling particularly fancy, I’ll make an orange olive oil cake.
Head to www.foodforeveryone.org.au to pick up a beautiful artwork for your kitchen walls while supporting people in need of a feed.