by Akhileshwari Anand Raj
Tina Scott Parashar is a multi-award winning cake artist who has been recognized by her peers at the national and international levels. She has been named as one of the Top 10 Cake Artists in India for 2017 and 2018 by Cake Masters Magazine, UK. She has won multiple Gold awards in Cake International, UK. She has been pivotal in bringing the Indian Baking Industry to the forefront by serving as an ambassador to various organizations around the world.
Tina is the International Projects Manager for Global Sugar Artists Network (GSARN) and the Official GSARN Judge for their projects/contests held worldwide. She is the first Indian to be appointed brand ambassador for several international brands including Saracino, Cerart and Magic colours.
She has hosted the Incredible India Cake Collaboration initiative in 2017 and 2018 where she has been successful in representing India's ethos through baking. She is from India and currently lives in Dubai, UAE.
She recently did The Incredible Indian Welcome Display in Cake International 2019 in collaboration with Elza Baldzhiyska, Lulu Lucero, Angelika Chwyk, Kostadin Nikolov, Ashwini Sarabhai and Janette MacPherson. We're fortunate enough to witness the collaboration display in Cake International and were blown away. It was placed right at the entrance of Cake International welcoming the visitors the traditional Indian away. We were quite intrigued with the work and effort that must have gone behind this display and possibilities of things going against your plans. We had the privilege of getting answers to some of our pressing questions directly from Tina and here's what she said.
1. You played a pivotal role in The Incredible Indian Welcome Display collaboration in Cake International this year. How did this opportunity come about and why did you choose to be part of it?
I have been coming to Cake International (CI) regularly since 2015. For the past two years, I have also been organizing an international collaboration called Incredible India, which showcases the vibrant culture and heritage of India.
I was approached by Melanie Underwood from Cake International to work on an Indian themed display. Melanie knew about my collaboration and wanted me to organize a display at CI inspired by the same theme. Once I sent my final sketch for the display, Melanie thought that it would be great as an entrance feature that welcomes everyone to the show.
Cake International is the world’s biggest cake show, and I’m grateful to CI for giving me a fantastic platform to showcase my work to an international audience. I won Gold and 2nd place for my very first entry in 2015. And that’s how my cake journey started in earnest. CI has always had a special place in my heart and I’ve always considered myself part of this family.
2. What was the reason you chose to theme it as an Indian welcome, and how did you conceptualize this?
When I planned the display, I wanted to showcase our Indian traditions and culture vibrantly and colourfully. I had many themes in mind, but the Indian welcome was the one that I thought was best for my first display at CI as it was one that visitors would immediately recognize as India! Namaste is widely known as a traditional way of greeting in India. For my collaboration as well, all participating artists had dressed up in traditional Indian attire and did Namaste. Everyone in the cake industry widely appreciated this unique theme. I wanted to take that a step further with my CI display. While my idea was to welcome the visitors to our display, Melanie had an even better one, to welcome all visitors to the show by giving us the display area at the main entrance.
3. This was a collaboration between you and other talented artists, each working on a different component from different parts of the world. How did you choose the artists?
This was a tough choice for me. There were many artists that I really wanted to work with, as there are so many talented artists in our industry. I knew the elements of my display and had sketched the same that I shared with CI. Then I picked up every single element and chose artists that I thought would be able to do the most justice to that piece. Melanie gave me a few suggestions as well.
My initial plan was to have many artists and everyone got to do something of their choice. But I quickly changed that as I wanted each artist to get recognition for their work and didn’t want anyone to lose out like it usually happens when there are too many artists involved. Plus, I wanted larger than life-size cakes! And I had very specific ideas of what I wanted in the display. With each of the artists I approached, I shared the sketch of what I wanted them to make specific and I felt really pleased when they all told me that they were very excited to make it. I stressed on the fact that it needed to be very detailed and lifelike. I am so glad that six talented and incredible artists (Elza Baldzhiyska, Lulu Lucero, Angelika Chwyk, Kostadin Nikolov, Ashwini Sarabhai and Janette MacPherson) said yes to doing this display with me. They are from different parts of the world and didn't have any visibility of other artist's work. Elza is based in London, Lulu is based in Mexico, Angelika is based in Warsaw in the Wola district, Kostadin is based in Southend-on-Sea (United Kingdom), Ashwini is from India and Janette lives in the highlands of Scotland.
Janette created the two elephants, Kostadin created the wonderful Ganesh cake (he just had a printed picture of Lord Ganesha for his reference and not a 3D idol), Elza contributed to the beautiful sitting girl, Angelika did the magnificent Peacock, Ashwini created the fondant lamp (Samayee) surrounded by sugar flowers and the artwork made with edible sugar and Lulu was behind the life-size display of a man holding the Namaste sign.
4. Tell us how the entire process came to life and how you managed to transport the structure from India to the UK?
I had been working on planning for the display well in advance. I was in touch with people from Homebakers.co.in who helped me with getting lots of information that I needed as sitting in Dubai; it was difficult to know what I could/couldn’t manage in Birmingham. That way, I knew that making a structure in Birmingham would cost quite a lot, much more than carrying the structure from Dubai to Birmingham. So that’s what I did. I worked on my structure in Dubai and brought it with me to Birmingham, where I continued working on it for a month. I requested the other artists to do so as well if they were going to work with me in the UK. When working on human figures (all life-size) and all being made by artists located in different parts of the world, you need to make sure that all the figures are proportionate to each other. Also, all the other elements needed to match and needed to come together as a whole theme. The colours were discussed in detail, along with the height, proportion, base size (to fit into the display area), etc.
5. What were the key challenges that you faced during the last 30 days you worked on your creation?
The last 30 days were focused on establishing the size and dimensions of each piece — also, the colours to make sure that the display comes together as a consistent theme.
There was also a lot of focus on making sure that any damage during transit was promptly fixed. I also had to ensure that the backdrop for the display was designed. It was also about being executed as per the demands of the conceptualised design.
6. How was your experience while working with other artists who came from different parts of the world? Did you face any challenges and how did you overcome those?
It’s been an incredible experience working with some of the best artists in the world. Each of them brought their expertise. Because of the physical distance and everyone’s busy schedules, it was a challenge to coordinate our work. The language was also a huge barrier. We spoke using Google translate, and I hoped that I was able to convey the right message to everyone.
7. What were some of the things that could have gone wrong? Did you have any backup plans for such a situation? How many backs up plans did you have?
You always have to be prepared for the unexpected. For a project of this scale, you need to be mentally prepared that something can and will go wrong. We faced a situation where two of our initial artists had to drop out. It was because of personal reasons, but we managed to redistribute the work between the existing team members. I am grateful to the artists who stepped up when I needed them. Fortunately, we had prepared for such contingencies.
8. Please share some of your tips for the budding cake artists out there and who would like to be part of such display exhibits?For every artist, it is essential to give their very best to their work. On a show such as Cake International, attention to detail is everything. It’s necessary to build your work portfolio. You should be able to demonstrate the improvement in your technique and skills in the work that you put out. I would encourage artists to participate in as many collaborations and cake competitions as they can. It helps build confidence in their work and develop the ability to work with other artists. I am very grateful that I had the experience of handling a collab with so many international artists over two years. I think it helped me to build my leadership and coordination skills.
That was Tina's The Incredible Indian Welcome. It's a truly inspiring story for all the home bakers and cake artists. Here are a few close-up pictures of each contribution to the collaboration.
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