I am taking part in an exciting charity exhibition organised by Caiger Contemporary Art to celebrate the partnership between Illy coffee, UNICEF and Le Méridien. The exhibition, centered around the coffee culture in London, is intended to raise money for UNICEF and is taking place at Le Méridien, Piccadilly from 9 February to 17 April 2016.
All the artworks will be up for silent auction in aid of UNICEF until 9pm on 2 March. After then, they will be available to buy online. The money raised will help UNICEF provide clean drinking water and proper sanitation facilities for children and families across Africa and the Middle East.
Mixed media (book pages, coffee sack, coffee, porcelain, resin and oil paint) on canvas
60 x 40 cm
‘Untitled’ is a direct response to my observations and engagement with the London coffee culture as well as a means of finding common ground with threads of behaviour that link this as a global culture.
As I walk past the large, accessible coffee house window I am drawn to the moments (as well as the rich smell of the coffee) inside. I hear the conversations and the obvious hub of social exchanges, the lively gathering and the quiet stolen moments. I see a cultural convergence and the historical industry that have created roots connecting a diversity of people on a profound, daily level.
The cups of coffee and their connected shared moments may be rich, but they are essentially transient. It is those moments that I am interested in, the moment something is created or captured, learnt or questioned. Maybe on one of the laptops intimately and uniformly sitting in a row with regimental perfection, solving problems and creating questions. Or with a pencil and chance scrap of paper to quickly deposit a burning idea… When the book is written, or the idea formulated, when the painting is finished or the song completed, you will remember that coffee, because it became ‘that’ moment. It became a ‘modern fossil’.
The work is made by a series of layers, each separate and yet enriching each other, each with a symbolism.
First on the canvas is a layer of worn, well noted and inscribed book pages (found by chance in a coffee establishment). This represents the language and creativity that binds the coffee experience and connects people, the exchange and communication of ideas at the heart of this ‘culture’.
The second layer is hessian sack cloth from a coffee sack. This refers to the trade routes and international connections that coffee creates. The fibres are inter-woven like the connections between the people that are part of the network. The seam of the sack is clearly seen, snaking across the surface as if places discarded; the shape mimics the run of the river Thames across London, an artery of trade and commerce, a waterway of movement an inlet for ideas.
The third layer is coffee itself, which binds the other existing layers. The texture and familiarity provides a rich and fertile surface, a warm bed. It is a coverage, like the soil of the earth, a place to grow, a place where ‘fossils’ lay, a memory made of a specific time.
Within this surface, wear and marking have been encouraged to provide a sense of life or movement. A line of deliberate rectangles engraved upon the surface represent the windows of the coffee house with their displayed moments, the screens and paper that create, solve and question, and the moments.
Lastly is the fossil itself, the cup, the universal implement. It may vary in appearance but must fit simple ergonomic criteria… as we are all the same. It may be used for a coffee in a coffee establishment, then it is lost to you, back in the cycle…but the moment is ‘fossilised’.