Food is at the centre of so many of our social interactions; home cooked roasts with friends, romantic meals out, quick coffee catch-ups, picnics and park games across the summer and bring-a-dish-if-you-wish gatherings. ‘Would you like a cup of tea or a drink of anything’ is pretty much engrained into me if anyone ever visits my flat – I’d feel weird if I didn’t say it. Even my assessment of whether a meeting was good or bad can be largely defined by the snacks – ‘not much was decided but those biscuits were GREAT!’. In fact biscuits used to be top of my list of what you’d need to start off any good community arts project. It is undeniable that there is something about food that instantly brings us together and creates a connection.
- By the way Art Fund is a brilliant scheme that get’s you 50% off top-notch exhibitions in London and free entry to lots of cultural sites and galleries across the UK. They then use these proceeds to fund the purchase of artworks to keep them in public galleries in the UK rather than being bought by private owners; supporting access to the arts in a fantastically sustainable way… but that’s another blog.
While speaking about how often we visited galleries, what we saw, who we visited with, it became abundantly clear that I have a slightly unhealthy relationship with the gallery cafe (members bar ideally) for meetings, catch up’s with wine and for working… and I am not alone! I pushed for discounts, access, and more cake to come with this membership, only rarely remembering to mention the exhibitions themselves.
Take a moment to think about the clubs, hobbies or events you take part in… I’m part of a gorgeous book group that meets in a pub often chosen for great food, a multitude of sewing and textile classes across London advertise the fact that they provide tea and cake throughout their workshops, Crafternoon Cabaret Club is purposely set in a pub where we offer deals on cocktails to give it an easy-breezy social vibe while you craft, and everyone knows half the reason to visit a private view is for the wine and nibbles and the chit chat that accompanies this (don’t they?). Even one of my first posts on this blog mentions cake an unreasonable number of times! Is it just plain greed? Is it that we like our culture with some yummy consumption on the side? Or is there something deeper related to how food makes us feel and act and how this prepares us for creativity; something comforting and relaxing about the atmosphere it brings; togetherness, we’re enjoying this together.
Did anyone else have parents who insisted on family meals at the tables so we could all catch up on our news from that day? Did you ever go camping and tell stories round the campfire? When we come together to eat we react to an age-old tradition of storytelling, debate, and collective thought. We may have evolved into pretty, witty urbanites rushing from one pop-up to the next, while simultaneously scanning Time Out for the next big thing and tweet-book-stagramming every minute, moment, second of that journey, but how glorious are those moments when you can settle into a cosy pub/bar/cafe/sofa/park and enjoy a refreshing tea/coffee/wine/beer/cocktail with your best friend/fella/work colleague/family. When you simply stop and let your mind rest; share your stories, hear the stories of someone else, let your thoughts settle and spread.
If I’m stressed or tired I find it incredibly difficult to sit down and write, or make, or design or do anything creative; creative tasks instead become a big intimidating tick list of things I haven’t achieved yet – and where’s the joy in that? Strangely a quiet setting does not calm my mind, in fact having people and bustle around me makes me far more proactive. And my favourite haunts to work in are coffee shops (I’ll share one secret hang out with you – the Cafe Nero on High Road by Turnpike Lane has an upstairs with sofas, plugs and the barristas tucked away safely downstairs that I could spend hours in!). My most successful work meetings of late have been in pubs, over breakfast, or in the assorted cafes scattered across North London and the south bank.
Food and drink unite us. Art nurtures and cultivates our minds and creativity. People encourage and reassure us. I say combine it all and relish the joy it brings. Nourish yourself and nourish your mind – may tea, cake, wine and platters feature in all our creative endeavours!
And if you happen to be in Crouch End any time soon The Haberdashery is a BEAUTIFUL vintage cafe in which to do it. Flower Pot Muffins, bunting, amazing breakfasts and jam-jar drinks. Bliss.
Photography by Hannah Cox. Covered under copyright © creativise
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