Do we do great work in spite – or because – of our suffering?
I was in the winter of my life. Deeply thirsty for purpose, desperately in search for meaning. Despite the agony that is depression, I did not want to deny myself the experience. I did not want to bury or delegitimize it; I did not want to be restricted by the very things that tormented me.
I did my best to hold off the demons that sought to destroy me by creating an artificial state where the grotesque was explored. A place where both emotion and intellect could work together; a place where uncomfortable became adaptive. This state both thrilled and terrified me, and in the most wondrous and brutal way I lost myself in a kaleidoscopic world of ‘dark’ and its negative connotations. I became vulnerable in a way that was not weakness. I became vulnerable in a way that birthed innovation, creativity, and change.
Baking allowed me to keep the monsters at bay whilst expressing the ever-shifting desires of my heart. Baking became enlivening, life-affirming, and exactly what I needed to re-engage with the potential of my life. Baking became a flow state, where I got so lost in the task it became meditative, holistic. Self-destruction turned into self-preservation, and I found solace in the engrossing rush of it. I nurtured the places where clarity and energy emerged from, in a territory bordering dreams and reality. Through baking, I was able to understand conflict without necessarily living in it.
And so, welcome to my brainchild – a world I call my own. A world transfixed by the phenomenon that is cake. A world that greets the odd with a smile. A world so wildly and absurdly decadently tasteful. A world that keeps the viewer suspended between attraction and repulsion. A world where sensitivity is used to navigate difficult paths in life. A world where every ingredient has its own texture and taste, and each cake has its own history and personality. A world of potions, and dim themes.
I have always been strangely comfortable with the peculiar. Seeing a heart-wrenching phrase on a cake – one of the most identified and hopeful expressions of care – does not distress me. In fact, I feel mildly comforted by it.
Words and Photos by Isla