The excitement for me as an artist lies not in exploring the unknown but in how I can effectively organise a visual arrangement that reflects the atmosphere and intensity of an environment, evoking a precise moment of the day under specific light and conditions. I hope you enjoy the work
Feature of the week 12/03/2018
substance seemed to be made from chicory leaves and was bitter with a scummy residue, and the memory of it is heightened by the fact that it was January, a cold, foggy Saturday with the sun struggling to break through.
I never went back to the café, although I walked by regularly, and saw it gradually go even more downhill over the years. I was bemused as to how it managed to continue to operate. Then, in the early nineties I think, it ceased to operate and I watched the yucca and rubber plants in the window slowly disintegrate over time, the pale green walls growing ever paler; the Pepsi Cola stickers becoming dustier and dustier.
I made the drawing in coloured pencil about 1990. It was a medium relatively new to me and I was influenced by a an American illustrator, John Baeder who published a book called Diners around that time and who had used watercolours to create great detail and colour.
Another influence was Glynn Boyd Harte who published a book of illustrations describing a journey through France in 1990 called ‘Mr. Harte’s Holiday’. Again these were executed in watercolour but much more spontaneous and rapid in their execution.
When I decided to make the cafe this week’s feature, I did a bit of research and discovered the site of the cafe is protected by English Heritage as it forms part of a façade that was the site of an 18th century inn. Delving a bit deeper I was astonished to find that the name Pubali Cafe and the address 805 Commercial Road can still be located on Google maps. The Street View shows the ex cafe boarded up with the frontage and windows still identifiable with the structure of my drawing. I wonder if the Formica tables are still there in the interior and rubber plants petrified with time? Will it ever re-open?
The Pubali Cafe, Commercial Road
When I first moved to the East End in 1983, I was intrigued by a cafe next door to the Star of the East Pub on the Commercial Road. It was always open but no one ever seemed to enter. A small thin man with a white apron and neatly trimmed beard stood motionless behind the counter or sat eating at a Formica table. Very occasionally, a lone customer would drift in, order a plate a meal and sit reading a newspaper.
Eventually, one Saturday afternoon I gave into the temptation and went in taking a seat at a table. I simply ordered a coffee and when it arrived, I can honestly say that it was the worst coffee I have ever tasted. I am not and never have been a coffee snob, coming from the Midlands working class, I grew up in the 50s with bottled Camp coffee offered as a rare treat. This