2018 MyLondon Kickstarter launched!

Posted by on Aug 18, 2017 in News | 0 comments

MyLondon, the photography calendar created by 100 homeless people, was launched last night in East London.

The viral success in 2015 and 2016 saw thousands of calendars being sold overseas, in a project which is supporting London's homeless people though the sale of the calendar which is made up of beautiful photos of the city taken on disposable cameras over five days in July.

Online the project, which has been covered by more overseas media than UK media, with huge sales to German and the US buyers. However, once the actual calendar is printed, it sells thousands of copies in Spitalfields market and other London markets.

The project trains people in photography and when the calendar is ready people gain work experience selling it. MyLondon has inspired similar projects in Budapest, Sydney, New Orleans and Toronto.

The MyLondon Kickstarter is aiming to raise £7,500 to pay for the printing of the calendar which will be launched in Spitalfields Market on World Homeless Day on 10 October 2017.

Please contact tel 07517 141948.

First solo exhibition for Cafe Art artist James Gray

Posted by on Aug 2, 2017 in Event, Exhibition, News, Press release, Publicity | 0 comments

Jacob Stevens, Diorama general manger and James Gray.

James Gray is having his first solo exhibition and we at Cafe Art could not be prouder.

James has come a long way. When we first met him in 2012 he had only recently been sleeping rough in London, and was being housed by Wytham Hall in West London. He was one of the first artists to lend his paintings to us to hang in cafes, and when we approached him about creating a calendar to bring together all the art groups for people who had experienced homelessness in the ONE calendar he willingly contributed and his painting of poppies was the November image.

Last year James took a huge step - to take on a flat and live independently, and earlier this year he became the artist in residence at Diorama Arts Centre.

I Dream in Colour showcases fantastic art in vivid colour, influenced by the inner world of dreams. A mix of psychedelic abstract paintings and figurative sgraffito skylines of London, where he lives and works.

His compact abstract paintings on canvas draw you in to an intricate fantasy world of colour spectrums, twisting kaleidoscopes and glitter, where the physical fluid movement of thick acrylic paint is captured in glistening textured surfaces. The imagination wanders amongst swirling paint to find order in the chaos, with shapes morphing into surreal creatures and landscapes. Evocatively described as ”jewellery on canvas”, “ice cream” and “candy made in dreams”, the sensuous and soothing paintings are a sight to behold and treasure.

His figurative grafitto works depict luminous city skylines and trees in acrylic on paper. Layers of painted are scratched through to reveal what is underneath, creating texture and depth. The dark foreground and brightly coloured lines give the impression of atmospheric night scenes. James loves to immerse himself in the experience of painting and the feeling of creative flow. He is constantly surprised by what emerges, and by people’s interpretation of what they see in his work. This sense of wonder and discovery is a great source of inspiration that drives him develop his artistic practice.

“My journey started 10 years ago when I found myself homeless. I’ve struggled throughout my life, but nothing prepares you for a life on the streets. Surviving each day and night, that’s what it’s all about. Not knowing what’s next. A life outside of life. First you think it’s just a dream and then it hits you. There is no comfort or joy, just pain and sorrow. Being kicked, being woken up and moved on. Being a stain on society, a piece of dirt. Just another statistic.”

“I am thankful because it opened a door for me. A path that led me to where I am. I joined an art therapy class in a day centre. I taught myself different techniques and soon fell in love with art. Art saved my life.”

“I’ve exhibited with Café Art. I now live in my own flat. I’ve started my own business as a self-employed artist. I’m Artist in Residence at Diorama Arts Centre. And now have my own exhibition at Outpost. That’s how far I have come.”

Peter Bedford Housing Association (PBHA) are proud to work in partnership with Café Art to provide a platform for James Gray at Outpost, as part of PBHA’s Big Lottery funded Supporting Makers programme. The programme provides support for artists and makers experiencing barriers to accessing the art world. Participants are supported to become creative entrepreneurs and to develop, showcase and sell their work.

Outpost – Shop | Gallery | Community Hub 546 Holloway Road, Islington N7 6JP @OutpostN7 @jamesgray Open: Mon - Sat 10.30am – 6pm Private View: Thursday 10 August, 6pm to 8pm. Please join James at this event!

Vote online for the 2018 MyLondon calendar

Posted by on Jul 30, 2017 in Calendar, Exhibition, News | 11 comments

We have exciting news - for that first time you can vote online for the photos in our 2018 MyLondon calendar! You can have your say here.

One hundred one-time-use Fujifilm cameras were handed out to people affected by homelessness at St Paul's Cathedral on 30 June, resulting in more than 2,000 photos.

From 2,000 photos submitted from 89 cameras returned, 20 have been chosen for the public vote to decide the 2018 MyLondon calendar. We hope to get thousands of votes from the public in Spitalfields Arts Market from Monday 31 July to Sunday 6 August.

London Photo Festival

Cafe Art has partnered with London Photo Festival and this allows us to find out what you like from the 20 photos chosen by the official selection panel in mid July.

London Photo Festival has been supporting Cafe Art and MyLondon for many years. Every year they have a representative on the MyLondon judging panel, either Emma Mapp or Kit Shah. For several years they have generously sponsored one of our photographers to join their annual exhibition in May, giving exhibition experience and really helping us to connect with local London photographers.

See this year's top 20 and vote for as many photos as you like now! Please note that we are doing voting in Spitalfields Arts Market and all voting results will be analysed before choosing the 2018 calendar on Monday 7 August.

Vote now!

MyLondon in Spitalfields from Monday 31 July

Posted by on Jul 25, 2017 in News | 0 comments

See more than 400 photos from the 2017 contest. Vote for the top 20 to help us choose the 2018 MyLondon calendar!

More than 450 images of London as taken by people affected by homelessness feature in the largest MyLondon exhibition yet - 25% more photos than last year - in Spitalfields Arts Market from Monday 31 July to Sunday 6 August.

There will be a small opening ceremony with some of the photographers at 1pm on Monday - please join us!

The contest photographs were taken with one-time-use Fujifilm disposable cameras over five days in early July.

A Glimpse of London posted about us last year. Why not come down and see this year's exhibition?

The results are incredible - from haunting scenes by participants who live in the shadows of the Grenfell Tower in Ladbroke Grove, to creative observations by participants on a London we all love.

This is their love letter to London and and we encourage you to come and see it.      

MyLondon underway!

Posted by on Jul 4, 2017 in Featured, News | 0 comments

The 2017 MyLondon Photography Contest is under way, kicking off at St Paul's Cathedral on Friday 30 June. READ: 100 cameras given out at St Paul's

The cameras will be returned on Wednesday 5 July at the Cathedral. After processing and printing the judging will happen on Monday 10 July to choose the top 20 winners, and the participants will be able to select five photos each for the exhibition on Tuesday 11 July.

Listening to the photography workshop in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral on Friday 30 June. 100 cameras have been distributed to people affected by homelessness with the theme "my London". Participants have five days to take 26 photos. (photo Dee Robinson)

Ray of Light spoke about his experience in previous contest. Ray got photos in three of the previous calendars, including the cover of the 2016 calendar, with the image of Mr Bond (left in the background). Neil Cordell (left), co-cheir of the London region of the Royal Photographic Society did the main presentation about how to use the camera. (photo Dee Robinson)

After the workshop - signing out the cameras. This year previous and current participants made up 30% of the volunteers on the day. Royal Photographic Society members were on the sign-out tables too. (photo Dee Robinson)

Signing out cameras. Ten cameras were signed out on each table. Lunch was provided by Pret a Manger.

Can you help us with MyLondon?

Posted by on Jun 9, 2017 in News | 8 comments

A volunteer helps a participant choose 5 photos for the exhibition: can you help hand out cameras on 30 June or with the exhibition selection on 11 July? [photo Neil Cordell]

Hello, we're looking for people who would like to help us with the annual MyLondon project!

The camera handout day is on Friday 30 June.

The main details are:

Location: The Wren Suite, The Crypt, St Paul's Cathedral (entrance opposite "Paul" Cafe on the north side)

Volunteers need to arrive by 11.30am, unless specifically asked to come in early. There are two handout sessions, because the room is not large enough: the first session will start at 12 noon and the second one at 1.30pm. We start by letting people have some Pret a Manger sandwiches and then we quickly do a short session to remind people how to use the one-time-use camera, the goals of the project and important facts such as the theme and when to return it (5 days later!).

The volunteers should be able to leave by 2.30pm as the second group winds down and people head off.

We should be OK for the return day, as it's fairly straightforward (Wednesday 5 July) but the next big day that we need help is Tuesday the 11th of July. On this day people are asked to drop by and pick up their photos and choose five for the exhibition and write captions.

We need volunteers between 11am and 4pm on that day.

This was a new event last year and so we know that we need enough volunteers to sit down with the photographers. A laptop would be a help for this event.

There are several other roles on other days, including preparing the cameras in the last week of June, numbering the photographs in early July and preparing the exhibition in late July.

Please email if you can help us!

Meet James Gray, Artist In Residence

Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Featured, News | 5 comments

James Gray at work in the Dirorama Arts Centre studio.

We are really happy to announce that one of our artists - James Gray - has been chosen by Diorama Arts Centre to fill their Artist In Residence spot after the first artist David Tovey completed his term.

James is a full-time artist and has come a long way since he was sleeping rough in London in 2010. He discovered painting in an art therapy class in The Passage day centre in 2009.

One of the first artists to connect with Cafe Art in 2012, when he had been rehoused in Wytham Hall, supported accommodation in Maida Vale, James is now working as an artist and managing his own flat near Russell Square in London.

"I was homeless over a three year period, mostly sleeping rough around Victoria." A number of personal events happened which led him to become homeless.

Most of James's art is acrylic - a mixture of colour and texture with other prints done on paper. Several focus on London - with skylines and the London Eye in several of them.

Once very shy and lacking confidence, James is now regaining his self esteem. In fact today James is meeting up with Maria Mikulina, a student who is working on a proposal to produce a magazine about homelessness.

Diorama not only hosted the This Is Where I Live exhibition, but last year they hosted the inaugural ONE homeless arts festival for its founder David Tovey.

If you would like to see (and buy) more photos of James's art please contact us at

Jacob Stevens, Diorama general manger and James Gray in James's studio. To buy James's art please contact us at


Acrylic City by James Gray. This painting is currently being exhibited in the This Is Where I Live exhibition in New York hosted by fresh art.


Smartphones for homeless people?

Posted by on May 16, 2017 in Featured, News | Comments Off on Smartphones for homeless people?

This year's Judging Panel for The Black Sheep Awards 2017, including ROL who represented Cafe Art.

There's a new design award and we've been asked to help out with the judging!

The Black Sheep Awards are hosted by Carter Wong Design (CWD).

CWD are the big-hearted company who has been designing all of the MyLondon and other partner cities (eg Budapest, New Orleans Sydney, Sao Paulo, etc) as well as Cafe Art's logo/branding etc for free!

This year's Black Sheep Awards brief was 'How would you change societies perceptions of the homeless owning smartphones?' Not only does the concept needs to be bold with longevity in mind, but the design needs to stop us in our tracks, exceed people's expectations, communicate on a deeper level as well as flexible to be used across multiple platforms. A tall order indeed!

ROL, left, with the other judges, going through all of this year's Black Sheep entries,

Cafe Art was indeed honoured to be invited to be part of the judging panel which included House of Barnabas, Norwich University of the Arts and CWD themselves.

We're pleased to say that ROL was there as part of the Cafe Art Judging Team. The standard was extremely high and you have to wait for the results to be announced officially by CWD. We will keep you posted!


This is London, where we live!

Posted by on May 16, 2017 in Featured, News | Comments Off on This is London, where we live!

Artists, photographers, guest and supporters enjoying the artworks from 4 different continents under one roof!

Not an 'opening' as such, as the exhibition opened last month, but we finally got all our artists and photographers and supporters in the one venue at the This is Where I Live 2017 exhibition at Diorama Arts Centre last week.

This Is Where I Live is now in it's fourth year, and celebrates the wonderful talent of people affected by homelessness in Berlin, Mumbai, New York and right here in London!

Brian McClure giving his talk on how to prepare artworks for exhibiting/selling.

Before the public arrived, Brian McClure (Artist-in-Residence from Omnibus) gave some very useful advice on how best to prepare art for selling/exhibiting, and Neil Cordell  (from The RPS) gave a preview about the forthcoming MyLondon 2017 photo contest.

Two of the artists, Geraldine and ROL, announced a new Cafe Art art contest with cash prizes totalling over £1,400 to be launched this summer.

Janice Brown Josch (right) bought the wonderful Berlin Cat painting drawn by Thomas Rudolph Decker. Thank you, Janice!

After the workshop some artists stayed on to meet Cafe Art supporters.

To top it off, two of the pieces were sold that day too. Many congratulations to the two artists - Thomas Rudolph Decker and Stuart Bleasdale.

The good news doesn't end there as Diorama Arts Centre has kindly agreed to extend the exhibition by a few more weeks. So if you haven't seen it yet, you still have time to do so!

More details about This is Where I Live here


Jacob Stevens (left, General Manager) purchased Stuart Bleasdale's painting on behalf of The Diorama Arts Centre. Anita Lord (from the charity, Two Saints in Bournemouth) accompanied Stuart. Thank you Anita and Jacob!

Ricardo Negro exhibition

Posted by on Mar 31, 2017 in Featured, News | Comments Off on Ricardo Negro exhibition

We are very happy to host, the Qbic Hotels, an exhibition Brazilian artist, Ricardo Alves da Silva Miranda, also known by his artist name Ricardo Negro, at Qbic Hotel, east London. The Private View is in Qbic Hotel, 42 Adler Street, London E1 1EE on Tuesday 11 April between 6pm and 8pm. The exhibition will be up until mid May. Ricardo is donating 10% of the income from the sale of the paintings to Cafe Art. Ricardo creates colourful graffiti-style murals and paintings that focus on the architecture of the Favela communities of Brazil and last month he painted a mural for Café Art in our Qbic Hotel base in East London.

Ricardo fitted in a late night spray can painting session in-between engagements for Havaianas in March. This is the mural in Qbic.

His exhibition features pictures on canvas and one that he created live in the Havaianas shop in Westfield London in March. Ricardo, who is here to help Brazilian flip flop company Havaianas launch a summer 2017 range based on his paintings, wanted to connect with the London by doing a mural on a wall here and we were really happy when the Qbic Hotel gave him one of their main walls in the hotel. The Qbic Hotel has given Café Art free storage of our paintings and photographs since November 2014.</> Julie Fawcett, managing director of Qbic Hotels London says that while Qbic was always set up to be a business that made money, looked after people, do things that normal hotels do, it also had a strong emphasis on ethical behaviour and doing good business. “Part of that is supporting the community and [their] projects surrounding us. So we were absolutely delighted to support this. We have been a long time supporter of Café Art and that relationship has been I think beneficial for both of us. It’s a really great example of how an organisation like us and an organisation like Café Art can come together for mutual benefit. And today we had this amazing work of art drawn on our wall, organised by Café Art, which has been a huge symbol I think of how the two organisations can work together for such a great outcome.” Ricardo has been doing graffiti art for 16 years. He says his paintings, which focus on images in the marginalised communities in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, focus on joy, purity and intimacy. He was flown to London by Havaianas with the art gallery owner Roberta Britto who exhibited his work and helped him contact Havaianas with his ideas and designs for the flip fops in 2015. Roberta explained that Ricardo approached Havaianas with the idea for using his designs on their flip flops. Havaianas decided to open it to other designers and Ricardo submitted 30 designs, and they chose three of his designs. Please come to the exhibition, and not only see Ricardo's mural and his art, but the entire 2017 summer range for Havaianas too. We are also selling prints from the Minha Sao Paulo project run by Cafe Art and With One Voice in November 2015.  
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