Chocolate and Art: Has Tony Fagan got the best job in the world?
Continuing with our quest to Meet The Makers of the Bay, we swung by Cockington Court to chat to Tony Fagan, the anamorphic street artist and chocolatier.
Trained as a Commis Chef, Tony quickly found a love for chocolate while working in kitchens on Park Lane, London. Then moving down to Devon, and having run restaurants - even Cockington’s own Tea Room - Tony and his partner swapped the coffee beans for Peruvian coco beans, by opening Cockington Chocolate at Cockington Court. This artisan shop showcases hand-finished and hand-painted chocolates, which almost look to good to eat.
Tony’s passion is, and always has been, art and back in 2017, he entered a 3D chocolate swan into the Cockington Court Sculpture Trail. Tony then went on to enter in 2018’s Sculpture Trail and now in 2019, he’s entered again, but this time without the chocolate.
This year, Tony presents anamorphic street art, painted on the pavements of Cockington Court. Anamorphism uses the trick of distorting perspective to create artwork that is one big optical illusion. Tony’s two dimensional paintings become three-dimensional depending on your perspective. They’ve become a big hit with visitors… humans and dogs alike.
“Not everybody loves art, but everyone loves chocolate! They do weave together, because art is used in the chocolate, so my passion is in both… I’m here as a chocolatier for the last eight years, but in total I’ve been here for 12-years nearly…
Artisan and maker means that everything's done by hand, hand-finished and hand-painted. We do here bean to bar, so we actually have beans in from Peru and we grind them, we make our own 100% raw bean to bar.
But my real passion has also been art and it has popped its’ head up from time to time, but as I've got older I'm doing more and more commissions, but also art links into chocolate because my chocolate is art. It does crossover in the art form, because you can paint in chocolates, you can pipe in chocolates, you can do all sorts in chocolate.
How the art crossed over into the chocolate… I think it was probably the Sculpture Trail in 2017, when I applied and did the first sculpture and it was in chocolate, which I think surprised the curators of the Sculpture Trail when I put in my application, because they didn't expect it and I did a chocolate Swan and I think that's where it first crossed over.
3D street art is something I first came across in a place called Bessan in the South of France. It stretched my imagination to how it was done. It's not anything new, it goes back to the 15th century when artists were doing it and it's all about projection and it's creating an image that can only be seen correctly from a certain viewpoint and if you see it from the wrong viewpoint it's distorted or it's stretched. I was slightly fascinated by the mathematics of how to create these images and this year for the Sculpture Trail I put in an application…
People photograph them, people love the crocodile, people are actually sitting in the mouth and being photographed… whole families. The bridge we created a hashtag which was #Cockington3D and it surprised me that actually there's a lot of pictures of dogs sitting on the bridge which is quite amusing…”
- Tony Fagan, Artist and Chocolatier at Cockington Court.