Cafe Art Hampstead competition exhibition opens

Posted by on Sep 20, 2017 in News | 2 comments

Zin Vaitiekunas stands in front of two of his paintings which made it into the exhibition, one of which won the Figurative Prize.

The inaugural Cafe Art Competition Exhibition opened at the Hampstead School of Art (HSoA) last night with a short award ceremony. See photos from the opening here (Facebook) While we have had many exhibitions since our first one in the Guardian Building in August 2012, this is the first time we have awarded prizes. The exhibition can be seen in the HSoA's new building. The connection to the school began a few years ago (the first exhibition was in January 2015) and Cafe Art is very appreciative of the support from the school, especially the principal Isabel Langtry who was one of the judges for the contest who chose the top three prizes. The other two judges were Jimmy Lek from ArtGemini Prize and art therapist and long-term Cafe Art volunteer Simon Richardson. The HSoA chose another three prizes (listed below). Twenty one paintings are in the exhibition, (having been selected from 80 entries) and are on display until Friday 13 October. See a selection of the images here (Facebook) The three main cash prizes were funded by the Spitalfields Market vendors of the MyLondon calendar. Last year when the calendar had to be reprinted in early December, the vendors agreed to contribute 25 pence from each calendar sale they made, and this raised more than £1,000 for the prize money. The judges chose three main prizes, each winning £200 for themselves and £100 for a charity of their choice: The Figurative prize went to Zin Vaitiekunas, an independent artist but formerly from Kids' Company. The Self Portrait prize went to Michael Crosswaite from 240 Project. The Abstract prize went to Aaron Little from Crisis. The HSoA prize winners were: Mateus (Abstract Prize) James Gray (Special award of free tuition at HSoA) Justin (Principal's Prize) May thanks to Camden New Journal and Ham & High for running a feature in their papers 🙂

2018 MyLondon calendar

Posted by on Aug 18, 2017 in Featured, News | Comments Off on 2018 MyLondon calendar

Thirteen beautiful photographs, taken by homeless people, are part of the 2018 MyLondon calendar. Created by 100 homeless people in a project lasting five days.

The viral success in 2015 and 2016 saw thousands of calendars being sold overseas.

See the Exhibition and 2018 MyLondon photos here

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 raised £8,707 to pay for the printing of the calendar which was launched in Spitalfields Market on World Homeless Day on 10 October 2017.

Order the calendar online here.

First solo exhibition for Cafe Art artist James Gray

Posted by on Aug 2, 2017 in Event, Exhibition, News, Press release, Publicity | Comments Off on First solo exhibition for Cafe Art artist James Gray

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 | 15 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 | Comments Off on MyLondon in Spitalfields from Monday 31 July

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 News | Comments Off on MyLondon underway!

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 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 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 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!

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