Is Empathy only present if you are well and well fed?

Starvation Diet. What is it?

Mmmmmm chocolate, Mmmmmm sandwich, Mmmmmm doughnuts, Mmmmmm beer. Spoilt for choice. Trying to resist. When I resist I put the money in a pot. When the pot is full I send it (the money, not the pot) to somebody who needs it to survive. The art comes about through the documentation of the process, here and in other places. There is no end to this project.

17 Dec 2009

This morning I cried, this afternoon I will do something

This morning I was talking to my son about the George Marshall climate change event I went to In Manchester last night. My 12 year old son said, "They say that the world may be uninhabitable in the next 50 years and that's in my lifetime." He is old enough to understand this fear and uncertainly over the future. Its something I've thought for a while but George Marshall underlined it last night, the future will be changed but maybe in amongst the really tough things might grow good things, things like renewed communities, no carbon emitting activities like swinging from trees or reading a book in the park. So why am I still crying? I think it brought it home to me. I know some of the science, I know the world is overpopulated and that we probably need a decline in numbers to make things better but this is actually personal. Nobody wants to see those around them ill, worried or displaced, a killer virus or a massive flood might be just what humankind needs but you would fight it when it came to your door. All this is at the door of millions of people already. They see the land they once used polluted by sea water, they build their housing higher on stilts, they starve and just as I would or will they fight to do the best for their loved ones. This is apocalyptic now for so many people. It is the end of their world.
I got an e mail from It asked me to phone Gordon Brown to say that I am unhappy about the way things are going in Copenhagen and want to see change. I thought, a phone call, I might be shy, what if it turned out really to be him "Ormmm, Hello." he'd say and I might get tongue tied and stutter or something

I will ring up and maybe I'll just tell them what my son said this morning, maybe they'll see how sad that is and how it made me cry. When my son gets home I'll try and talk to him about the good things he thinks the future might bring. Maybe it will all be all right.

14 Dec 2009

Christmas Sausages

My butcher makes Christmas sausages which he tells me have no reindeer in them but are full of angel dust and pine cones. I'm not convinced but when they go into the pan I get a smell of Christmas. Its not the smell of Christmas dinner but the smell of Christmas. The sausages have cloves and cinnamon and fill me with a as yet unfelt amount of cheer for Christmas 2009. Maybe with these sausages I need be Scrooge no more. A merry Christmas to all and to all a good year.

11 Dec 2009

Glum and seeking comfort

Woke up feeling glum today. A few plans fell through and I felt progressively more sorry for myself. It was then that I thought about a snack. Whoa is me, I deserve a chocolate bar some crisps would cheer me up. 3 prunes and some clever redirection later I feel much better and find that I have resisted descending further into the poor me's and everything no longer resembled a snicker. Must be at least £1.50 more for the starvation diet pot.

8 Dec 2009

Honourable intentions

Its really hard to know how to pitch my work at the moment. A lot of what I am doing is driven by a desire to do things which are not money and funding led projects but more about doing projects I think are vital. At the moment this leads me to doing lots of things for free. Somebody asked me the other day "Whose funding this project, have you been commissioned?". I felt like if I had been able to say yes it would have added more gravitas. The fact that we are doing that particular project out of passion and conviction is seen as somehow suspect. To be getting money for something legitimises it. Maybe that is something we should scrutinise because having a price tag on something could legitimise some really daft or wrong things.

Looking into Charities

I have sent an e mail off to various charities. I took me an age to phrase it. Is it right. See what you think.
Dear Sir/Madam,
I am an artist working in the UK. I read that there are as many overweight and obese people in the world as starving and malnourished so set about an art/life based project called The Starvation Diet. The project documents my efforts to address my weight through resisting food which takes me above the calories I need to be healthy and donating money saved to people who do need it. It is based on the premise that in a world where others are starving its wrong for me to be overweight. I'm looking for a charity who see some value to them in the project and who can guarantee that a large percentage of my donation will get to the people in need. From reading your site it seems that your charity could be a good one for me to go for but just wish to know a few things:
What percentage of a donation to you would go to the people in need?
This art piece is not part of my paid work but just a passion to use my art to do something I think is vital so I'm eager to link up with others. Can you see any possible creative links which could be made between your charity and this art piece?
You can look at the project page online at:
and the project blog at:
and ring me if you want more info on 07828148123.
Thanks for your time,
Beth Barlow

7 Dec 2009

What happens if you put the word diet in your twitter posts

You get the diet lady popping up as a follower. A nice lady who will via her website lead you to a leaner body and all for only 47 dollars with a 30 day money day guarantee and the diet lady even wants to give you more, she wants to make it so you don't have to think. I doubt that the diet lady has any interest in my kind of diet, I shall look forwards to her comments.

Diets and weekends

The weekend is a time to relax, a time for a treat, a reward for the week. It is then a problem when you are on a diet. "Tonight" you say "I'll have a beer or a chocolate bar or a takeaway." At least that's what I say. This Friday I had soup and and a sandwich for my tea whilst my son had a takeaway. That was £3.50 in the starvation pot. On Saturday I had an Indian takeway but after only eating half I had some left over for my dinner on Sunday rather than buying more cheese for cheese toasties, so that's another £1.00 in the pot. My boyfriend was heading to the shop and, although I really wanted to say "Yes, go on buy me a chocolate bar, its Saturday and Strictly come dancing is on." I resisted, another 60p in the pot. £5.10's worth of food taken from my belly and put into the belly of somebody who needs it more. I could have saved more and had less of a dicky tummy if I hadn't had the curry, thats one to resist next weekend.

4 Dec 2009

The choice of charities

I am too tired to do this tonight. I will look over the next few days at places to send my first instalment to. I need a charity who are already working on the ground with people. One who
doesn't suck up lots of the money in admin. If anybody out there has any ideas please comment.

Setting up the starvation diet website

I have been doing the diet for a few weeks now. I have £23.33 in the pot. I don't know if I've lost weight, I don't posses as set of scales, maybe, if this was to be scientific that was an oversight. But never mind I'm an artist not a scientist. I shall appraise myself ascetically and say yes I am much less chubby around the back. I wanted to make this process part of my art work and let people know what I am up to. I set about creating a website to look like a diet site, all smiles and people full of vigour, pictures of food you can get away with, all pink and fluffy and friendly. Most of these sites must be aimed at women or very feminine men. They are invariable littered with pictures of women, they have round corners, sprinkles and soft womb like colours. My site has turned out distasteful. It has all these features but along one side is the picture of the starving child you see at the bottom of this blog. It may be a bit much for some people. Who wants to see a picture of a burger alongside the exposed rib cage of a barely alive child. It seems perverse, as our mouths naturally salivate at the site of food, our eyes are drawn to the deprivation. I think I'll upload it anyway. You can see it here if you want.

The first few days on the starvation diet

I went into town the other day and whilst walking through Wilkinsons on my way to get mirrored tiles for a schools art project I saw a great big Christmas pudding. They had been talking about christmas puddings on radio 4 before I headed out. I find almost everything on radio 4 fascinating, its a weakness and I must learn to be more discerning about it. So when I saw this pudding I was instantly attracted and thought, "I could buy that and we could have it after tea." As my son doesn't much like Christmas pudd this actually meant, I could buy it and eat it after tea. It was 97p. 97 p for a pudding which wouldn't be uncomfortable wearing my hat. How does one source and make and rap a pudding of such density for 97p. As I reached for it I remembered the starvation diet. That was one of the first collection of coins to go into the charity pot. If you haven't yet read what the starvation diet is click on my blog go to The process behind the starvation diet or The idea behind the starvation diet.

The Process of starvation diet

Every time I resist buying a bad food stuff be it snack or meal I will put the amount of money saved in a pot. The pot of money will be counted up from time to time and that amount of money given to a charity which supports starving or malnourished people. As an ex catholic I think that the deep guilt of buying that chocolate bar and thus depriving those in bad conditions will help me resist. I have only ever lost weight when my focus has been elsewhere, when I was running about after my son, during ichy sticky break ups or when too busy with work or worry to eat. I think that this way of doing things will allow me to focus not on the hunger I feel of the fact that I am hard done to without that ice cream or cake but on the hard fact that people starve so that I can eat more. I may loose some weight but if not at least somebody will be benefiting from my new restraint.

The idea behind Starvation diet

I was reading a book called "The End Of Food" today. The one fact which jumped out at me was that there are probably as many overweight of obese people in the world as starving and malnourished ones. I am overweight, probably not by that much by western standards and not enough to worry about it for my own sake. I have never been very good at diets. I start off thinking that its a good idea for the sake of my health, to look better etc but give up because those reasons seem too facile. I needed another motivation beyond myself. Thinking of people starving, not just abroad but here too, may just be that motivation.