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Guelph artist creates a Vladimir Putin-inspired deli meat face to raise funds for Ukraine

The commission from t-shirt sales with the image will be donated to the Red Cross for Ukrainian relief
Barbara Salsberg Mathews deli meat and vegetable portrait inspired by Russian president Vladimir Putin

A rotting parsnip for a nose, mouldy mushroom for hair and smelly anchovies for lips are all what artist Barbara Salsberg Mathews used to create her newest creation, a ‘Mad Vlad’ inspired food-based portrait of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Mathews said as an artist she likes playing with her food, so she decided to apply her artistic talents to create a face inspired by Putin.

The face has been digitized and will be printed onto t-shirts, with all commissions from the sales going towards humanitarian aid for Ukraine. 

Once collected, the money will be donated to the Red Cross and sent overseas to help the people of Ukraine and the Russian army continues its invasion. 

“I think we have to do something because I feel very strongly motivated to use what I can do, my gifts as an artist, to help raise some money to help the people of Ukraine,” said Mathews. “It really marks my heart sick seeing what’s going on, and if I can do something I must do it.” 

Mathews said decided to take Putin’s face and see what happens.

Mathews searched for pictures of Putin that inspired her to create a deli meat face with a resemblance to the world leader, then posted the images to her social media to get feedback from her followers on which picture they would most like to see immortalized in deli meat and vegetables.

“I involved my followers on Instagram, having them vote on which photo of Putin I should translate into food art,” said Matthews. “When the votes came in I did my plan and chose interesting ingredients.”

Using some inspiration from her daughter, Mathews grabbed a bottle of sriracha to spell out “stop mad Vlad” above the face.

“I just saw the parsnip as the right, right shape for Putin’s nose, and it had to be rotting, partially to reflect my feelings for this choice of actions,” said Mathews. “And I knew for the eyes, small, tiny pickled onions that kind of protrude under slices of deli meat for the eyelids. I had a lot of fun with it to be honest with you.”

In addition, the selling the t-shirts to raise funds for the people of Ukraine, Mathews hopes her design will allow people to laugh and bring back some humour as Ontario transitions out of the pandemic.

The t-shirts can be found here, with all shirts being made to order.

In the past, Mathews has created other food art of politicians including, ‘Meat Head’, inspired by Premier Doug Ford and ‘Deli Don’, who has a striking resemblance to Donald Trump. 

“I initially created these portraits for fun and out of disgust with their abuse of power,” said Mathews in a press release. “These works are parody, using food to send them up.”


Daniel Caudle

About the Author: Daniel Caudle

Daniel Caudle is a journalist who covers Guelph and area
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