MyToronto film wins Canadian journalism award

Posted by on May 25, 2018 in News | 0 comments

Anne-Marie Jackson's report on MyToronto's inaugural photo contest, exhibition and calendar project last year has won her the Single Multimedia Award at the News Photographers Association of Canada Awards.

The video was taken over several months, from the day the Fujifilm one-time-use cameras were handed out to 90 people affected by homelessness until the day the 2018 MyToronto calendar was launched in October last year.

MyToronto is run by the homelessness-sector charity Ve-ahavta who have partnered with Cafe Art and are running the project which is based on MyLondon. (see more videos from Ve-ahavta here)

MyLondon is now in its sixth year. Run by Cafe Art, it has major support from Fujifilm UK, Carter Wong design, The Royal Photographic Society, Spitalfields E1 Market, Qbic Hotels and many other partners.

MyLondon camera handout on 21 June

Posted by on May 25, 2018 in News | 0 comments

MYLONDON 100 cameras will be handed out on Thursday 21 June at St Paul's Cathedral, resulting in more than 2,000 photos. 20 will be chosen for the public vote to decide the 2019 MyLondon calendar.

The 2018 MyLondon Photo Project camera handout, for people who are or have been sleeping rough, will happen at St Paul's Cathedral's Crypt is on Thursday 21 June.

Fujifilm UK are again donating the 100 one-time-use cameras. In the weeks leading up to the handout we will be visiting art groups run by homelessness-sector organisation in London to give short training sessions on how to use the camera.

When the photos are developed, participants get a set of their photos in colour and black and white and a certificate.

The exhibition will be in Spitalfields Arts Market from Monday 29 July to Sunday 5 August, ending with an Award Ceremony.Photographs on display will be for sale: photographers earn 50% of the profits from photograph sales and 20 winners share £2,000 in prize money. From October vendors can earn income from selling the calendar in the same market.

Cafe Art's focus is on helping people who have been homeless transition from benefits to earning their own money. Calendar vendors on the New Enterprise Allowance are allowed unlimited earnings and they will make up the main vendors, alongside vendors still sleeping rough who are not on benefits/government assistance.

Recent examples of vendors who have been on the New Enterprise Allowance, or are still on it, include Cafe Art photographer Geraldine Crimmins and artist James Gray.

Please email if you want to pick up a camera. Please read the contest rules to see if you qualify.

Shining a light

Posted by on May 12, 2018 in News | 0 comments

Shine has trained 8 people to be barristas for the new coffee shop which opened on 11 May.

Shine, a new coffee shop run by vulnerable people who have experiences either homelessness or have been in risk of homelessness, opened in Turnpike Lane London yesterday.

Dozens of local people and supporters of HAGA, recently merged with Blenheim, which has helped many people with alcohol and drug addictions of the years, were there for the opening.

Cafe Art helped with the video for the crowdfunder, based on our experience with the MyLondon Kickstarters.

Crowd funder 

Shine was funded by the public with a crowdfunder last year.

We helped with their crowdfunder run by Spacehive and the Mayor of London. After they were shortlisted to the final 25 projects, they were awarded £9,000 from the Mayor of London's fund and successfully raised £28,861 in total.

The Shine Enterprise Centre, now just "Shine", has an art gallery theme with local artists in recovery and Cafe Art was very happy to be asked to hang a retrospective MyLondon exhibition which is by people affected by homelessness.

The furniture was bought with the crowdfund money but extra stuff was built by clients of the centre. Kevin says last minute requests of stuff, and help painting the coffee shop, came from many volunteers.

Shine will be open weekdays from 10am-5pm for the first few months. The address is 89-91 Turnpike Lane. The closest tube station is Turnpike Lane on the Piccadilly line.

Opening day in Shine which will be open to the public next week.

Kevin Farrell with the Mayor of Haringey and a supporter.

Cafe Art has been given a wall to exhibit a retrospective of MyLondon.

Introducing MyBrighton & Hove!

Posted by on May 11, 2018 in News | 0 comments

MyBrighton & Hove will be the second calendar project run by Cafe Art in the UK.

We are very very excited to announce that MyBrighton & Hove is happening this year, with the camera handout set for Friday 29 June!

One hundred one-time-use Fujifilm cameras will be given to local people affected by homelessness, just like in London, Budapest, Sydney, Sao Paulo and Toronto. As with all the other projects, the goal is to empower local people with lived experience of homelessness.

The goal is to engage people in a creative project that gives skills and connects people. Coming just eight days after the London camera handout (which will be again at St Paul's Cathedral), the Brighton & Hove project will initially be funded by a Kickstarter which we will launch on the same day as the MyLondon Kickstarter, with a goal of funding the printing of the 2019 MyBrighton & Hove calendar.

We will print 1,000 calendars this year and all profits will go back to the local homeless calendar vendors and also into making the project an annual event.

MyBrighton & Hove is being managed by volunteer Lucy Groenewoud who is working with local homeless services and charities in Brighton and Hove including Passage, Justlife, YMCA, BHA and St John Ambulance.

Like the London project, it will provide employment and training opportunities, aiming to improve their confidence and social skills as it includes the artists in all aspects of the project.

Lucy said: "According to the latest figures, one in 69 people in Brighton and Hove are either in temporary accommodation or sleeping on the streets." She added that researchers in a recent survey in Brighton spoke to 170 rough sleepers over the course of a week, and found that only 31.4% of people reported having a planned activity in their lives that made them feel happy or fulfilled.

"MyBrighton & Hove will address these very topical issues, highlighting homelessness in the city, whilst providing an activity with potential for future development and opportunities."

After cameras are handed back, the photographs are developed and judged by a panel of photography experts and those with experience of homelessness. The top 20 photos are picked and opened to a public vote, after which crowdfunding with Kickstarter will begin in August for the calendar to be printed and launched in October.

The photographs will be on display during October 2018 at SEAS (Socially Engaged Art Salon) BMECP Centre, Brighton.

From October to December the 2019 MyBrighton & Hove calendar will be sold with the support of the photographers and local businesses.

"We are grateful for the support of the Royal Photographic Society, Fujifilm UK, One Church Brighton, YHA Brighton, and SEAS Salon," said Lucy.

Paul Ryan from Cafe Art said that when Lucy Groenewoud approached Cafe Art they decided to back the new project with profits from the MyLondon project. "We are very appreciative of the support from Fujifilm UK who are giving the 100 cameras and helping with developing and printing too, like in London. Local Royal Photographic Society volunteers are donating their time alongside a team of other locals."

"We have decided to run our annual MyLondon Kickstarter fundraiser at the same time as the MyBrighton & Hove one, to pay for the printing of the calendars. Of course the targets will be different as we will print fewer calendars in Brighton, but we hope a lot of our supporters will by both calendars. We will run the Kickstarters from 15 August for 30 days." Further information can be found on or contact

New exhibition in new London Borough of Culture: Waltham Forest!

Posted by on May 10, 2018 in News | 0 comments

Ahsan Khan, Portfolio Lead Member- Libraries, Arts and Culture, Waltham Forest; Ricardo, Bru; James Gray, Cafe Art, Sarah Caldwell-Watson, Cafe Art; Paul Ryan Cafe Art and Sameera, Bru Coffee and Gelato.

Councillor Ahsan Khan from Waltham Forest, Barrista Ricardo from Bru Coffee and Gelato and Artist James Gray from Cafe Art.

Café Art arrived this week in Waltham Forest with an exhibition in Bru Coffee and gelato, just as the borough has been announced as the first London Borough of Culture. (more about the award here)

Like all of the paintings we hang, all are for sale to the public with 80% of the sale price going to the artists and 20% back into Cafe Art to buy new frames.

James Gray is a former rough sleeper and one of the exhibiting artists who attended the launch event, along with Waltham Forest councillor Ahsan Khan and members of the Bru team early this week.

“I was sleeping rough on and off for three years” he says adding that he was living near Victoria Station. He joined an art therapy class run by a local homeless charity at that time. James initially was rehoused in a hostel and later transitioned to his own flat to rent. He says it takes a few years to get over the transformation of living inside again after being homeless. “Homelessness always leaves a scar, so you really have to find something to motivate you – something you believe in.”

James is now self employed and Café Art employ him on a part time basis to hang art in cafes. He also earns money by selling his own art in the cafes with Café Art and in solo exhibitions. As well as original paintings and drawings James recently has been concentrating more on trying to sell prints (reproductions) of his art, which he says are proving very popular.

Bru coffee shop approached Café Art when they heard about the programme to exhibit art by homeless people. Bru’s managing partner Sameera said: “We’re really excited about this. Café Art empowers rough sleepers to make something of themselves and reintegrate into society, this very much resonates with Bru’s ethos of bringing real benefit to our community whilst serving arguably the best coffee and most luxurious hand made gelato around. It also fits in with our vision to help bring culture to the first borough of culture”

Ahsan Khan, recently re-elected Labour councillor for Waltham Forest, spoke about the importance of being the first Borough of Culture. He said; “It’s an opportunity to promote arts and culture, which is sometimes seen as a middle class hobby, right across different social classes. This really does transcend boundaries because the Borough of Culture Award allows us to really take this into every home, into every community right across the borough. It really does have the power to bring people together, to break down barriers, to have real longterm economic, social and educational benefits. One of the key things within our bid was bringing people together through music, poetry and art.”

Speaking about the issue of homelessness councillor Khan said: “Homelessness is on the rise and the fact that Café Art is providing a platform for homeless people to showcase their talents is an excellent initiative; if by having art displayed in cafes people can enjoy their cake and latte and also get to see some excellent artwork and have the opportunity to purchase that artwork I think that’s a win-win for everyone involved. So a lot of credit must go to Café Art and Bru Coffee and gelato for collaborating on this excellent initiative and I’m really just here as a symbol of support.”

Visit Bru Coffee and gelato and vote for your favourite Cafe Art painting! Bru are asking people to vote on their favourite painting, with a chance to win it, or a similar painting by the same artist (if it has not sold yet as all paintings are for sale). We will be changing the art every three months and we hope to put up art by local Waltham Forest artists soon.

Bru Coffee and Gelato

How to get there and what to do! Bru Coffee and Gelato, 223 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17 9PP, is literally 2 minutes walk from Walthamstow Central Station at the end of the Victoria line and on the London Overground. Why not make a day of it? Did you know that not only does Walthamstow have a beautiful village centre, but hosts the longest outdoor market in Europe? Why not visit the exhibition and see more of the London Borough of Culture at the same time?

New York, Berlin, Mumbai, Melbourne and Auckland: This Is Where I Live

Posted by on Apr 27, 2018 in Featured, News | 2 comments

Please come to the opening of This Is Where I Live 2018 at the Old Diorama Arts Centre.

This year we have had a great selection of works submitted from talented artists affected by homelessness across London which is being sent to the cities that sent us art. Because it's an international art exchange we are hosting the art from from marginalised artists from New York, Berlin, Melbourne, Auckland and Mumbai!

Works range from delicate life studies through to collaborative collages. The works are diverse as this wonderful city, filled with intrigue and beauty, rough edges and beautiful flowers and colours.

This exchange truly reflects the incredible talent that exists in people that are often ignored.

We are honoured to be hosting our 2018 This Is Where I Live exhibition at the Old Diorama Arts Centre, 201 Drummond Street, London on Wednesday 16 May. The exhibition will be open until Sunday 10 June, 2018.

This Is Where I Live has art by homeless people from New York, Berlin, Melbourne, Mumbai and Auckland! It opens on 16 May in the Old Diorama Arts Centre, London.

Photography workshops begin!

Posted by on Apr 16, 2018 in Featured, News | 2 comments

The Cafe Art Royal Photographic Society Mentoring Group ramps up a notch this year following a grant from Santander. Here the group meets for the first time at the National Theatre on Saturday afternoon. Photo: John Kelly.

Cafe Art got it's very first grant recently and we're proud to say it's for the RPS Mentoring Group that meets up on weekends to learn the basics of digital photography!

Thank you Santander Foundation! We are going to use the £5,000 to develop the photography mentoring group run by Royal Photographic Society (RPS) volunteers Neil Cordell and Mo Greig. On Saturday we had the first meeting at the National Theatre and we are very appreciative of the team of volunteers from The RPS!

After three years of the mentoring group being run on a shoestring budget, we were able to purchase a laptop to teach photo editing skills and we will have our first exhibition.

The group was started in 2015 by Neil Cordell. This year the group will have a series of sessions looking at all aspects of digital photography, ending in an exhibition in September.

Last year the Qbic Hotel commissioned the group to take photos of East London for the hotel's rooms, resulting in 14 photos being chosen for every room in the hotel.

The cheque presentation at Spitalfields Market. From left to right: Richard Smith Manager from UCL Branch, Mo Grieg from The Royal Photographic Society​, Kaniz Hussain, Tottenham Court Road Branch Manager, Neil Cordell who runs the Cafe Art Royal Photographic Society Mentoring Group, Ray of Light who is a past winner of the MyLondon contest and judge in last year’s contest and Paul Ryan, director of Cafe Art.


Manipulating art: major exhibition with Cafe Art’s James Gray

Posted by on Mar 9, 2018 in Featured, News | Comments Off on Manipulating art: major exhibition with Cafe Art’s James Gray

James Gray (left) with Cafe Art volunteer Patrick in front of UN FAIR - All the glitters... (Nee: UN FAIR) by William Blanchard & James Gray.

Cafe Art has an artist in Face Value 2, a fantastic exhibition, which has opened in London which connects two artists though one painting.

The concept is this: one artist does a painting, print or sculpture and then gives it to a total stranger to make their mark and add to it.

Cafe Art's James Gray was given a Screenprint on paper by William Blanchard who called it UN FAIR. James had not met William and was just given the print with no instructions on what to do. At first look it didn't look like it was James's at all. His usual style is thick paint on canvas and only later does the subtlety sink in. James said that he had actually put one of his trademarks on it - glitter was added to the star-shaped eyes and the words UN FAIR. Very clever and I believe it was a huge success as it complimented the piece in a subtle way.

This is the second Face Value exhibition and it was curated by Gary Mansfield who discovered art in prison in the 1990s. Gary has paired many well known artists, including Ben Eine (who started a picture and finished another one) and Jake & Dinos Chapman.

Face Value 2 is the second exhibition curated by Gary Mansfield who approached Cafe Art last year. Art pieces were created and then added to by another artist resulting on a very interesting exhibition.

Mansfield, who is also an artist, says "This exhibition is a way of exploring human vulnerabilities and seeing how the artists react to having someone else take control of their work. We've got some exciting collaborations going on the many of the artists don't even know about - most of those involved haven't got a clue who's working on their piece!"

So Many lives have been changed by other people, in both positive and negative ways. The drive behind this exhibition is to express the impact that one person can have on another."

James Gray, who has been homeless and is now a full-time artist, said it was a challenge to work on the piece he was given as he doesn't usually work on paper these days. He wanted to add silver glitter but the local supplier had run out of the glitter paint so he settled for gold. He was please the item sold at the Private View last night, saying: "I just helped sell my print to someone who went to the same school as me in Scotland. What are the chances of that. Great night, great charity. Got a chance to meet Katie Piper which was amazing."

The exhibition is raising money for The Katie Piper Foundation and is in Jealous Gallery East, 53 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3PT. Hours Mon-Sat 11am - 7pm, Sun 12 noon - 6pm.

Huge interest in Cafe Art 2018 programmes

Posted by on Mar 8, 2018 in News | Comments Off on Huge interest in Cafe Art 2018 programmes

St Mungo's! Today we visited the art groups at St Mungo's Grey's Inn Road, London. We hope to hang art from the group in a nearby restaurant in the coming weeks.

SHP in Islington! The first SHP art group that we have visited produced a long list of participants in the Cafe Art programme.

International Women's Day was celebrated in every hostel we visited today! We were offered a healthy juice in St Mungo's.

We're being overwhelmed with enquiries from formerly homeless and currently homeless people who want to exhibit and sell their art!

Following the successful launch of the 2018 programme last week, not only did we get more people emailing us from our current connections but we're also visiting as many homelessness-sector groups as we can.

This year, we are focusing our efforts to connect with new people affected by homelessness and over the coming weeks we will visit many more groups.

London students set up crowdfunder for Cafe Art

Posted by on Mar 1, 2018 in News | Comments Off on London students set up crowdfunder for Cafe Art

Crowdfunder for Cafe Art by students from Westminster Business University

A group of five students from Westminster Business School have created a crowdfunding project for Cafe Art, launching it on Thursday 1 March.

After hearing Café Art’s story from student and former MyLondon participant Kevin Farrell, they "knew this was the social enterprise we wanted to make an impact with". "We have been working with Café Art for the past several weeks and want to launch a successful campaign to further this not-for-profit company’s growth."

Kevin Farrell (right) with Richard Fletcher. Kevin has progressed from participant in MyLondon, to being student at Westminster Business University. The crowdfunder launched on 1 March and aims to raise money for Cafe Art by selling left over 2018 calendars.

Kevin Farrell was a participant in the MyLondon project in 2015. By 2016 he had got a job as a support worker with St Mungo's and the Haringey Alcohol Recovery Association and was instrumental in encouraging a group of people who not only participated in the 2016 project, but ended up winning five of the top 20 prizes.

In 2017 Kevin was employed on a part time basis on weekends to mentor participants in the MyLondon project at Spitalfields Market.

Because of his success in setting up the Shine Cafe crowdfunder in 2017 (which was supported by Cafe Art!) the Shine Cafe will open in about a month.

Please support the Crowdfunder for Cafe Art today!
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