LONG a Sunday treat dispensed by indulgent grannies, the Tunnock's Teacake has been elevated to the status of a cultural icon by the art world.
• Glasgow Print Studio's Olivia Bliss arranges the works for the exhibition which opens tomorrow and contains artworks inspired by Tunnock's products. Picture: Robert Perry
The foil-wrapped, chocolate-covered confectionery is now not only the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea, but has become a source of inspiration to a new generation of artists who are celebrating the cake in oils and ink.
The Glasgow Print Studio will tomorrow unveil a new exhibition, Tunnocked, in which artists honour the humble Teacake as well as its cousins, the Caramel Wafer and the Snowball.
Among the 40 different pieces of art inspired by the delicious products created by Tunnock's, the Uddingston-based company who celebrate their 120th anniversary this year, is the Caramel Wafer placed behind glass as in a fire alarm, so essential is it to artist Harry Magee.
Inspiration for the exhibition came from Fiona Watson, a printmaker whose original "painting" of a Teacake, composed on computer and printed out, proved a tremendous success among collectors.
She said: "They just seemed to spark people's imagination and memory. It is Tunnock's 120th anniversary and so we thought it would be good to ask as many artists as we could to produce Tunnock art and everyone has been inspired. There is a lot of fun here." For the exhibition, Ms Watson has branched out with a new painting of the Caramel Log.
The company was founded in 1890 by Thomas Tunnock who paid 80 for a shop in Uddingston. However, it was not until the 1950s when the company, under the management of his son, Archie, launched four original speciality items: Caramel Wafers, Snowballs, Caramel Logs and Teacakes.
The company continues to be family owned and is currently headed by Boyd Tunnock, the founder's grandson.
The brand holds a special place in people's hearts. Nicola Sturgeon, the deputy first minister, has even commissioned Tunnock's to make her wedding cake.
For Lynn Mackenzie, the curator of the new show, the company's products combine attractive packaging with a feeling of nostalgia. "We asked ourselves why people love Tunnock's and we felt it was a nostalgia thing," she said.
"They come back with stories about Tunnock's Teacakes when they were kids. They produce comforting and happy memories and it also has a very nice design with packaging that has a wonderful retro look. They are nice looking objects." The company is delighted to find itself the subject of artistic scrutiny and has even provided material in the form of packaging for one of the artists.
Fergus Loudon, operations director of Tunnock's, thinks the products have now wormed themselves into the Scottish psyche.
"I think it is such an iconic image and brand and the people of Scotland are patriotic and support their own," he explained.
"We are delighted about the exhibition. During the preparation, one of the artists e-mailed me to ask for some material so we invited him along to see how the factory worked and he was flabbergasted and said he couldn't wait to get home and get to work. I'm looking forward to seeing him at the exhibition."
He also confirmed that the company was making the cake for the deputy first minister's wedding. "Yes, we are doing Nicola's wedding cake. We're very pleased. She is from just along the road and obviously very keen to support local businesses."
• Wafers on a line