Posts Tagged ‘The Grain Escape’

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

Cafe Voices

We decided to include an audio-devise into the cafe, the audio is used for documentation purposes. However, when listening to it back ,it suggests the cafe met our aims and specification that we had when having the initial idea. From listening to the conversations taking place between customers it suggests a communal environment was created. Social class was a common subject matter. Additionally, a cafe atmosphere was established, clearly showing that we successfully managed to change the free-empty space.

Word Count: 80


Our Utopia

 We decided to create a backdrop and label it as OUR UTOPIA. We would then ask the customers who ,we said, were working class to write what their utopia would be or one dream on the white board and have a picture. This corresponds to the notion that manual labour is hard and that often an indivdual’s dream is a source of escapism.
On refelection , and the end process of our cafe, we had angled the socio-political message towards class and industrializition in which lends itself towards Marxist concept of “class and the capatalist mode of production.” ( Strangleman  2009 p.812)

Below are example pictures taken from the day – (Photo images by Charlotte Mooney, Friday 3rd May 2013, Great Central Library Lincoln)

austrailiafranceteacher8less scary place

zoo keepercomfort

Halford, S, & Strangleman, T 2009, ‘In Search of the Sociology of Work: Past, Present and Future’, Sociology, 43, 5, p. 811, Publisher Provided Full Text Searching File, EBSCOhost, viewed 11 May 2013.

Word count: 97

The final touches


(Rim Petros, Friday 3rd May 2013, The Great Central Library)

Jane Lindon wrote an article describing the experience of visiting Jenny Lawson’s Bake Me A Cake. The article observes Lawson’s exhibition.  I have quoted Lindon’s opinion regarding the visual aspect of the cafe as she  notes, the cafe clearly “demonstrates the thinking and the doing; the theory and the practice; and, significantly, the meta-discursive nature and the multiple modes of knowledge drawn in through the research process.”
In terms of The Grain Escape and transferring the free space, our specification stated that: “We aim to make  the cafe visually enticing . But we also want the added detail to  represent the research we have undertaken over the weeks of developing our project.”
Below are the added detail that we included in the cafe’s end result that represent the devloping process of The Grain Esape.

The statistics  that we sourced from the library’s staff memeber, Lesley, were presented onto the blackboard positoned on the cake counter.

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

We placed a notice next to the tables that included the names of library users that told us their favourite cakes.


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

The grain reprsented the research undertaken to find out the history of the building
GetAttachment (2)

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

The carved sign “The Grain Escape” symbolises labour and manufacturing through the physical exercution of carving the words out of the wood.
our utopia

 (Charlotte Mooney , Friday 3rd May 2013, Great Central Library Lincoln)


Word Count: 240





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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