Posts Tagged ‘Steph Alcock. Lucy Hobbs’

Leaving A Mark

cafe(Pictures – Univeristy of Lincoln library, Twitter, 3rd May 2013)
A pop-up cafe is temporary; there for one day only, no one knows where the cafe will pop up or when? When we brought The Grain Escape to the library on Friday 3rd May we gave nothing away that would indicate a fully -functioning cafe will be occupying the free space of the library from 9am till 5pm.  I am currently sat in the library at this present moment reflecting back to the 3rdMay, and when I walked past the free space earlier the space is now empty again with no sign The Grain Escape was ever there.  When re-entering the free space I noticed a single grain swept up against the skirting board and this  now serves as my own piece of history because it is the only remnant in the room that documents the 3rd May. The Grain Escape holds a place in history; memories have been created for everyone who was there.  I think this also represents the building’s own history, first built in 1907 as The Great Central Goods and Grain Warehouse, no one in the library today will be old enough to remember the building as a factory but the steel beams on the ceilings and the photographs serve as the only recollection of the library’s former state.

Madeline Bunting introduced the artist The Chewing Gum Man who is seen on the streets of London for painting “a picture on the discarded gum that litters the urban pavements.”(Bunting , 2007) The pictures have a personal connection ,for example, the spot where he is working might be the very same place two people shared their first kiss. The artist claims by painting the discarded chewing gum  he is “humanising an anonymous urban environment.” (Bunting 2007)In relation to the library, and through my earlier observations ,I discussed how the library is a place mainly for independent study where minimal conversations take place, [unless the library users already know each other]. So, it can be argued the library is an anonymous environment. The aim of introducing a pop-up cafe was to break down the social conventions of the library and create a social environment by adding personality to the space. Just like the Chewing Gum Man who uses images to humanise the city,during Friday we asked the customers to stick their names tags on to their cup and then peg the cup on to the washing line positioned on the back wall.
Leave your markLeave your Mark Washing lineLeave your mark

(Naomi Shaw, Great Central Library , Friday 3rd May 2013)

This created a visual collection of people that visited The Grain Escape ,but equally the physicality of placing a cup on the line is documenting an existence of someone who visited the library.  By naming the washing line Leave a Mark it functions to record who visited The Grain Escape on Friday 3rd May 2013.

Bunting Madeline, Policing Of The Artist , Guardian , 2007

Word count : 430

The Grain escape has lift off !!


Want a free cake ? EARN IT !

                    “take any empty space and call it a stage”

Peter Brook, has perfectly described the kind of transformation that took place on the day of our performance. It was a completely empty space at 6 o’clock in the morning and within a few hours it was transformed. As the day went on the visitors of the cafe i would consider them to be perforning, whether that was performing tasks or even getting into the role of the upper class or working class.
We started letting people into the cafe at 9 o’clock to give true sense of the working day returning to the history of a 9 – 5 day of mundane work in the factory/ cafe.
As we started letting people into the cafe and designating classes to the visitors we had some interesting responses that we recorded via the device we had in the cafe at the beginning of the day and some of the customers said things like;


“ have I been put into working class because of what I am wearing ?”
“so I have to work for the cake and they’ve just been given it?”

The visitors of the café had already in half an hour received a good impression of the injustice in the class system, the message was getting across. By 11 o’clock the café was buzzing with people and not only were we actually managing to create a class awareness we were also bringing a huge sense of community into the library and people mentioned the change in atmosphere that everyone was feeling.
To have that much of an impact on the space surrounding ours was something we were all proud of. The grain escape had taken inspiration from so many inspirational movements that we did not realise of café could have an impact.2
We also noticed from the audio recordings that even though the upper classes were receiving a first class service and being waited on that they also felt an injustice for them not receiving their cakes in the same ways as the people who had to work for their cakes;

“so I just have to sit here,
I don’t have to do anything ?”
“you don’t want me to move grain or anything
I feel like I should be doing something “

This division was especially heightened by the circuit that the working class people went round. The working class moved their grain, got their cake, if they worked well got a cup of tea and because we felt that the working class warehouse workers in 1907 onward were working towards their pay cheques and holidays we made the working class a “Utopia” to put their dreams on a board and have a photo with.


Tom Baker ‘grow old and stay happy’

 After hav7ing a photo and being documented into the café everyone who had been in the café that day put their name badges on their cups and hung them on the washing line to leave their mark on the library and to be humanised rather then just being considered a number or a statistic. We put the statistics of how many people clocked in and out of the library on to the library and at the end of the day covered it with photos of the people who had visited the library to make the library a community rather then just a mundane place of work.

Leave your markSo many of the library users took an interest in the work we were doing and wanted to leave their mark on the library and wanted to create in the library a community atmosphere that they felt had never been there prior to the cafe emerging. By the end of the day people were asking

” Am I allowed to put my cup up as well ?”

People who visited the cafe got a sense of the regimented routine that the warehouse workers went through on a daily basis because of the tasks we performed, we took part in all of the tasks the working class people were doing and also ran the cafe. There were five stations and every half an hour we switched stations and every hour we went out for a regimented cigarette break, because in the time of the factory, the workers would recieve a three minute break for a cigarette to keep them in their repressed positions. We did this by using the whistle, timed the break and then were whistled back in again.These elements were effective in showing how regimented a working class day was.

We were initally dubious about combining the two elements of class and community because we thought that they would clash, however as the day unfloded we realised that by breaking down the conventions of the class stereotypes the community became stronger with the vast amount of marks being left on the wall of cups and the photographs taken and the conversations that were exchanged, Wilkie says “site-specific theatre work is a means of moving away from the strict codes of the traditional theatre and encouraging creative freedom”. 
We moved away from the norms of usual performance and really embraced site specific.

I hope all who came to the cafe enjoyed their experience.

Comments welcome.

Works cited;

Brook, P. (1968) The empty space. New York: Atheneum.

Boon, R. and Plastow, J. (2004) Theatre and empowerment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



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This video captures a really visually enticing image for the audience and to a certain extent the outward aesthetic of the piece is really important because the space we are going to work with has four huge panel windows. This means when people walk past our pop up café has to be striking and attractive to make people want to come in and see what ‘The Grain Escape’ is doing.
We as a group want people to look in the window and be shocked at the transformation and be drawn to our café.
The space we have chosen has lots of space but also lots of history attached to this empty space. I have drawn a plan of what people wanted to incorporate into our space and how we want it to look.


drawn by Charlotte Mooney on April 12th.

Contemporary performing artists, such as Lawson, increasingly choose to work either site-specifically or in less culturally coded spaces in order to fully explore the potential of their practice and to extend the boundaries of a given art form or discipline. Thus the opportunity that such a space offers (neutral only in that it declares itself to be neither exclusively a theatre space nor a gallery) enables the broader indices of practice to emerge which, as this project[1]

In the room we want there to be a clear divide between the classes so people who enter the café get a sense of the Marxist concept of ‘Them and uz’. We are going to try and achieve this by having a beautiful front of house café with beautifully decorated tables and cake displays. In contrast to the back of the café that is hidden where we will put the working class people to decorate cakes and move grain. It will be interesting to see if the middle class people have a reaction to the first class treatment and whether the working classes object to being made to work for their cakes.


In the video ‘Let us make cake’ they use a projection to give a good sense of transformation, seeing as the transformation will be extremely visible to the library users we thought it would be interesting to see the transformation of the flour from the grain into the cakes that we have baked (watch in the video below). Looking back at the footage that we collected from our weeks’ worth of cake baking you can see thought-provoking images us working like a factory conveyor belt. There is one shot in particular which is simply icing cakes Lucy is whisking icing and passing it to Steph who is icing onto the cakes and Naomi is decorating, when I was filming this section it seemed apparent to me that they had all very much fallen into a mundane routine, mimicking the monotonous tasks that the working class people in the warehouse would have to carry out.

“Baker’s ‘secrets’ are not only moments of refusal, or moments of ‘privacy in public’, they also perform spaces in which I, in the role of spectator, can bring myself into(the) ‘ play’ as I fill in her gaps with my own stories. Who then is the confessing subject here?”(Heddon)[2]

By allowing the library users to be able to see the footage of us baking cakes for  The Grain Escape it hopefully will make them feel more involved in the process and feel less like a spectator and more fully involved in the experience we will hopefully create.

[1] Jenny Lawson (Reasons for wanting to participate in the Curating Knowledge Project).

Heddon, Deirdre, (2008), Autobiography and Performancep164.

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