Pigs win

June 15 / 159

Winning entry, The Three Little Pigs by University of Melbourne librarians Sarah Charing and Sophie Kollo . Photo Yves Makoul.
Winning entry, The Three Little Pigs by University of Melbourne librarians Sarah Charing and Sophie Kollo . Photo Yves Makoul.


The three little pigs have won the University Library’s edible books competition! 


The usually food-free Baillieu Library was awash last week with spectacular cakes based on literary themes, which included a Dr Who cake with its infamous phone box, a QR code cake that could be scanned to discover the book, and a cake based on the copy of Elmer held at Children’s Services, complete with teeth marks in its cover. 


Three-time winner librarian Sarah Charing and her colleague Sophie Kollo, from Architecture, Building and Planning created the winning cake, based on the enduring story of the Three Little Pigs. 


The entirely edible scene featured the three pigs, the straw house blown down, the wooden house complete, and the brick house ‘under construction’.


“Being from Architecture, we decided on an architectural slant.  We spent a lot of time thinking about the concept and the details, and went to ridiculous lengths!” Sarah Charing said. 


“We had a trowel, shovel and hammer made of fondant, Sophie made edible blueprints out of rice paper and edible texta. We had a duck pond, with chocolate rocks, royal icing water and ducks made by my 11-year-old daughter. There were liquorice bullet chairs and wood stacks, as well as chocolate wafer lumber. 


“It was incredibly good fun translating your ideas into an entirely edible reality!’


This year’s judge Paul Duldig, Head of University Services, followed in the footsteps of previous illustrious judges such as Stephanie Alexander and Pam Mawson, Creative Director of the Country Women’s Association Victoria.


“Judging the edible books competition was fun but made difficult by the high quality of the entries,” Mr Duldig said.  


Three Little Pigs won for sheer artistry and attention to detail.  Ambient Findability was an honourable second – only in a University would you find a cake that could be read by a QR reader that took you through to a web site!  I also loved the third placed entry, From Little Things Big Things Grow, depicting the pivotal moment in 1975 when Gough Whitlam sprinkled sand into the hands of Vincent Lingiari to mark the achievement of land rights for the Gurindji people.  


“Great thought and creativity went into all the entries. I can’t wait for next year” 


The competition has been run for the past five years. Previously open to library staff, this year the invitation went out to University Services, and even attracted entries from across the wider university. It is based on the international phenomenon, the Edible Book Festival in the UK, where bookbinders and bibliophiles are known to build incredible ‘literary’ cakes.


There are only two rules, to encourage maximum creativity. The cake has to be based on a book title, author or genre, and it has to be edible!


The winning cake took considerable time to make, with weeks formulating the idea, days of baking and decorating, and many lunchtimes to construct.


“I’m already planning next year’s,” Ms Charing said, “but it’s top secret.”


The Library’s edible books competition raised money for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea.


The University community was very supportive. The Co-op bookshop donated vouchers for prizes, University House donated morning tea, and over 160 staff members from all over the University came in and voted for the people’s choice award using gold coin donations, which went to the entry ‘Elmer’ by Melinda Clancy and Vi Nguyen from Children’s Services.


Competition organiser Kylie Nickels, Event Manager at the University Library, said it was great fun for all involved, and was particularly good for helping build connections among staff. 


Philip Kent, the University Librarian and Executive Director, Collections agreed, “The annual event is a showcase for the creativity of our staff and engages all with favourite books and imagery.”


The three little pigs cake is currently on display in the Architecture, Building and Planning Library.

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