Video: Leeds man carves animals from food

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A former landscape gardener has found a novel new way to channel his creativity, by carving fruit and vegetables to look like animals.

Alex Matthews first experimented with taking knife to food in an imaginative way to keep children occupied, but such has been the reaction to his creations that they are now receiving worldwide attention, with some of his latest efforts having been featured in the Canadian Huffington Post.

Alex Matthews carving a daikon.  Pic: Bruce Rollinson

Alex Matthews carving a daikon. Pic: Bruce Rollinson

Among his sculpted masterpieces so far include elephants carved out of apples, a giraffe chiselled from a parsnip and a gecko using a solitary courgette - creations he calls Organimals.

The characters are then brought to life by being set against fun landscapes to mimic their natural environment. Afterwards, many of his sculptures are recycled into healthy ingredients in smoothies and soups.

“I suppose I’m a culinary sculptor, food artist and inanimate animator,” explained the 29-year-old, who makes all his carvings out of an array of fruit and vegetables at his home in Guiseley.

“I have no actual artistic training so I rely on an active imagination, my passion for wildlife and the degree I have a background in.”

One of Alex Matthews' Organimals.  Pic: Stephanie Manuel.

One of Alex Matthews' Organimals. Pic: Stephanie Manuel.

While he may not have an artistic background, Mr Matthews is qualified in animal biology, having graduated with a degree in the subject from Nottingham Trent University and he works with Mauritian wildlife and nature photographer Stéphanie Manuel to capture his artwork.

He said: “I still aspire to work on in-situ conservation projects. However, it became apparent over time that conservation starts with the younger generation and raising awareness at an early age.

“I’m currently working on writing a creative story, which will be linked to an upcoming series of educational books for children to promote nutritional and environmental matters.

“I see this as the perfect means to captivate an audience - with eye-catching images, an imaginary world in which to set the story and susceptible minds to absorb the information.”

A 'Hippotatomus' created by Alex Matthews.

A 'Hippotatomus' created by Alex Matthews.

Mr Matthews, who currently works as an operations co-ordinator for a student tour company in Leeds, first began carving intricate animals out of food besides the slopes.

“I began whilst working as a chalet host in the French Alps and soon discovered that the children staying there really enjoyed coming back from skiing to see what had been made. Keeping the children occupied was key if you wanted to get any meal preparation done!”

For more of his artwork visit www.facebook.com/almodeart

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