Zoe Simons-Walker is an artist based in Hertfordshire. She recently graduated from the University of Westminster with a BA. Alongside her BA, Zoe also won the Bobbie Black Memorial Award. Her work focuses on poverty within the lower classes and explores how the class system divides us as a society. Does this social boundary create the fake personas within the working-class community? Zoe manipulates cheap food to convey this political, ironic yet humorous message. By wasting food, she is drawing attention to the poorer communities, questioning whether this materialistic deception plays a role in the current structural shift within the class system. 

Artist Statement

“Working class taste is about display and comfort and bling and play. Of course, it is ridiculous, Some of it. It is nasty and ostentatious at its worst.” –Anthony Horowitz 

Is classlessness a distant dream? A dream of equality, tolerance, communal spirit; a world that doesn’t scrutinize taste. I believe all classes are segregated into ranks of power, income and occupation within this ‘social scale’. Is an individual’s class as significant now as it was in previous periods? I question the stereotypical shibboleths that indicate an individual’s class and whether they warp to adapt to the class that the individual would prefer to be accepted into. 

Being at the bottom of the scale is intimidating, the fear of being insignificant. As a member of the lower class, I can empathise with this fear. I am concerned with this modern urge to ‘climb’ up the scale and fabricate an expensive image using clothes and jewellery, in order to be accepted into society. Ostentatious chunky gold chains and lower priced high fashion brands are renowned components of working class culture and flaunted under the noses of the higher classes. 

Are the necessities of the poor dissimilar from the necessities of the rich? This comparison fuels my practise. I like to play with the distinctions within our society, in regards to fundamentals, what is classified as desirable and this repression of price.  

Bread has been a vital component in my work.   A cheap easy meal, that fills us up quickly. I personally am sick of the cheap taste and smell of bread. You can almost taste the preservatives. Bread can be seen to have its own class system a slice of avocado on wholemeal multi-seeded bread, rather than a fried egg sandwich made from home brand white bread. 

My work is precarious. Chance decides how long the work lasts. I usually assemble my work briskly to represent the fragility and to emphasize the cheapness of the material. There are elements of humour within my work. Humour is often a coping mechanism cumulated when dealing with struggles in life and is prominent in lower class culture.  

A person’s class is marinated into them as children. Regardless of what job an individual has, what they earn, who they pretend to be, they will always be identified as a member of the class that they inherited.  

I make poor art, because I am poor art. I use food as a sculptural material with a sense of irony. I am wasting food to draw attention to the less wealthy, and to question whether the world would be a better place if the class system could fall.