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  • NUMBER 1

23rd January 2015

Flowers by Barry Morrisey The Café Art exhibition in the cosy café in Hampstead School of Art on a cold winter night was a heart-warming event. All of the artists taking part have in some way been affected by homelessness. Café Art was set up in 2012 over a cup of coffee by philanthropists Michael and Paul to give this different group of artists a chance to re-connect with society.  

So far around thirty-one cafés in London are participating by lending their walls to Café Art projects (www.cafeart.org.uk) And, this colourful network has outreached to Bristol, Bath and Bournemouth. The Guardian has hosted a Café Art exhibition in their foyer and Christie’s housed a pop-up event. Picture exchanges between Café Art in London, Fresh Arts in New York and Home Ground Services in Melbourne have also helped to highlight the cause and International exposure is a great confidence boost for the artists concerned.

“Fundamentally, Café Art works because it gives an opportunity for ten different homeless charities to get together without the need for competition amongst them. For us, the purpose is to get the artist to the next level and to get the public seeing their work. When an artist sells a piece of work we connect them directly with the buyer and we don’t take a commission,” explained Michael.

 

Now in its third year artwork and photographs are utilised to produce a glossy Calendar. Last year this helped to raise £18,000 for the vendors, photographers and art groups - 65% of the sales income, with the remaining income going back into the project. The evocative images for this year’s My London Calendar emerged with support and training from The Royal Photographic Society. An experienced panel of judges whittled down 3,000 entries to twenty and members of the public chose the final twelve. The sublime result is on sale here: http://cafeart.org.uk/cafe-art-calendar/buy-my-london-calendar/

Community projects are vital to getting people re-integrated into society. The number of people sleeping on the streets of London has increased by 43% since 2010/11 to 6,437 and is steadily rising [1]. Over half are between 26-45 year old and 12% are female. The financial crisis has hit homelessness hard in other capital cities too. A not for profit organisation in Athens has taken advice and inspiration from the Café Art model to set up a similar project and is busy seeking its own funding to do so.

Mark and Tom are two articulate and aware artists at the private view. Tom Hair, whose art has been displayed in previous ehibitions said: “It is a learning curve, the journey of visual communication of both the product and process of rehabilitation - a rehabilitation of the self both within and without.” Mark’s portrait painting is a carnival of blue and orange. Intriguingly, the art of those affected by homelessness expresses courage, hope and spirit through colour in distinct contrast to the monotone cityscapes exhibited in the gallery downstairs: a tacit reminder that some of the world’s great artists were transient.

Flower paintings by Barry Morrisey

[1] Thames Reach www.thamesreach.org.uk
https://www.facebook.com/cafeartforhomelessartists

Hampstead School of Art http://www.hampstead-school-of-art.org/partner-event/events/cafe-art-exhibition-at-hsoa.html