About the authors

Our interests encompass a wide range of the arts and sciences. We are keen to promote education through the holistic model in which different disciplines can strengthen one another and give a clear, connected view of life. Our careers have sprung from our interests and led us into wider fields of research. Both of us have a professional responsibility to engage people in improving their health. This has led us to be creative in combining art, poetry and science in Meet Us and Eat Us to capture attention, convey factual information and stimulate critical thinking through humour and storytelling. 

Vilma Bharatan

I spent my childhood in East Africa and South India, which gave me a lively awareness of the culinary and medical uses of food plants and their importance to different cultures. At a young age I taught myself painting. I used my love of chemistry to create my own pigments and paints from pollen, turmeric, finely ground brick dust and oils, and ruined many a canvas. 

I took a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry, and in the 1980s I moved to London and worked for the petrochemical industry. At the same time I entered formal art training part-time. My co-author Liz Kendall was a small child at the time; as a relation of Liz’s father, I would often stay with the family in Surrey.

While working for the petrochemical industry I saw the effects of lifestyle stresses on health, and changed the course of my career to study and practice homeopathy. My interest in medicinal plants used in homeopathy led to a PhD at the University of Reading, with research carried out using the specimens and data at the Natural History Museum in London and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.  As part of my PhD I gave public talks at the Natural History Museum on food plants illustrated by my photographs. I began combining photography with fine art techniques to create memorable images full of food plant personality.

Since 1991 I have been working as a homeopathic practitioner with people towards improving their health and preventing illness through their food choices. I was the research co-ordinator for biomedicine for five GP surgeries in Haringey, London from 2003 to 2016. Working within the NHS gave me insights into different attitudes to health and nutrition, sickness and healing, within varied social and ethnic communities.

All these experiences set me on the path to bring together scientific investigation and philosophic discourse, with art as a medium of story telling in an interdisciplinary celebration of food plants.

Liz Kendall

Much of my childhood in Surrey was spent in sitting in a tree, reading a book, or both at once. I remember Vilma, newly arrived from India, visiting and sketching in the garden. From the start we shared a love of chocolate.

A lifelong bookworm, I studied English Literature and have an MA from the University of York. I have worked in a contemporary art gallery and an independent bookshop. My interest in holistic health led me into a career as a Shiatsu and massage practitioner and Tai Chi Qigong teacher. As a child I was encouraged to try different foods and take part in their preparation. Meet Us and Eat Us brings together my main pleasures in life: poetry, art, exploring the world, and understanding how engaging our senses and eating well keeps us healthy. 

I have returned to writing poetry with enthusiasm after a break of many years, although I never stopped reading it. My poem Samoa, October was awarded a prize in a Candlestick Press competition, and is published in their Almanac 2023. My micro pamphlets Winter Long, Summer Short and Selections from the Mongolian Death Worm Poems are published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press, and are available via my website. I am currently developing my collections of poetry, essays, and wild food recipes while continuing my career in complementary therapies. I am on Twitter and Facebook.