Jiro’s Café Reopens

Jiro Osuga’s installation, Café Jiro, in the Flowers Gallery in Cork St, London in May 2009 was for me certainly the wittiest art show I’d seen in years, and you can get some idea of it from my pictures in this blog and on My London Diary.

Jiro’s Café has now returned to life, with a significant difference:  what was then a café in an art gallery is now an art gallery in a very real café, the Queen’s Terrace Cafe, just off the Finchley Road a few steps from St John’s Wood station. Rather than just walking around a gallery you can now enjoy morning coffee, a fine lunch or afternoon tea while surrounded by a unique work of art.

One whole wall – the longest display space in the small café – is covered by a panel that was in the previous Flowers show, but there are three large works for the new installation along with a number of smaller pieces – including three in the smallest room.

I spent a very enjoyable evening at the opening, talking to many old friends and meeting new. Most were finding a great deal of fun in sorting out the answers to a gallery quiz by Jiro, exploring a few of the historical and art-historical references in his work.

Drinking in the café you can find many famous figures, including Marx, Lenin, Che, Mao, the Queen and a ‘famous frog’ I’m not allowed to name.

Mireille Galinou, who had the idea for this cultural cafe, with arms folded

The Queen’s Terrace Café is described by Mireille Galinou who conceived and runs it as a cultural café, and has a programme of events which include:

  • a talk ‘Food in Art’ by Professor Michael Kauffman, former Director of the Courtauld Institute (Thursday 14 July, 6.00pm – £6.00 includes a drink)
  • a walk on pubs, hotels and houses in St John’s Wood led by Mireille, whose book on the history of the area,  Cottages and Villas: The Birth of the Garden Suburb, was published by Yale University Press last year (Thursday 25 August, 6-8.00pm – £6.00 includes a drink)

Places for these events should be booked in advance, either at the café, by phone (020 7449 2998) or at queensterracecafe@bitinternet.com – places are limited and tickets are non-refundable.

The exhibition quiz, devised by Jiro Osuga, is available during the show, and on Thursday 25th August he will be there for a ‘Quiz Night’ when the answers will be revealed and prizes awarded for the best entries – entry £2.00 on the door.

There are also two special projects taking place based on the local area.

Gardens:  I am working with Mireille Galinou on a documentary project where I do the easy job of taking photographs – mainly panoramic – of gardens while she works on “their basic historical pedigree…  and their owners’ aims and recollections” for a publication and exhibition at the Queens Terrace Café.

Studios: Photographer John Chase is working on a second project on artists’ studios in the area. Judging from the many blue plaques I’ve noticed walking between gardens there may be quite a few – and the area seems to have been particularly popular with sculptors.

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