To most pubs, cafes and the like, handwritten graffiti defacing walls and furniture is considered unsightly and met with a frown. One cafe on Shoreditch’s Hanbury Street is turning the negative association of this type of graffiti on its head - actively encouraging visitors to adorn the walls with their thoughts, in response to a range of questions and statements. Unsurprisingly, when the writing on the wall is welcome and given direction, the responses are a great deal more interesting than the usual ‘Fred woz ‘ere’ that can be otherwise found written or scraped into the paintwork of toilet doors and walls nationwide.
The Canvas Cafe opened its doors in October 2014 as a blank canvas, allowing its visitors to bring it to life with their words. Brainchild of actress Ruth Rogers, the founder of award-winning body image charity Body Gossip, the cafe is London’s first ‘Happy Cafe’, a space designed to improve the wellbeing, self-expression and positive thinking of its visitors.
With a menu offering smoothies, coffees, teas, beers and ciders along with a selection of light meals, the cafe succeeds in taking you a step away from mundane thoughts and worries of everyday life. It focusses the mind instead on more meaningful questions, like: What are your best childhood memories; Tell us a secret about London; What’s your happy place; Name an album that changed your life; What’s the best thing that happened to you today; What would be your superpower etc. True to London’s demographic, comments can be found in a number of different languages, showing the diversity of the UK’s capital city.
The walls are constantly evolving and the owners have recently made new space for more comments…so get on down and make your mark.
Author: Sarah Moor
Tip: If it’s a sunny day check out the small garden out back. Also check out the nearby Second Home workspace for further events and talks
The Canvas Cafe
42 Hanbury St, London E1 5JL