Of Cabbages & Kings Turns 10!

Founded in 2008, Of Cabbages & Kings is delighted to be celebrating its 10th anniversary this May.

Owner Jessica Widdows fills us in on the story so far …

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Photograph by Leah Band

Perhaps I always wanted to run a shop? As children, one of our favourite games was ‘villages’, whereby various make-shift camps were erected around the garden selling sticks, leaves and mud-pies under the banners of ‘Post Office’, ‘bakery’ and ‘café’. Later, I remember my mother returning from a trip to Bali with an antique puppet and thinking; what an amazing job – to travel the world collecting weird and wonderful objects and to sell those in a shop. I went on my travels. I didn’t set up a shop. Not for a while at least!

Art college took me to Bristol for 6 years. We made friends, we put on some shows, we talked a lot, we drank a lot, we worked hard and we had a good time. In 2006, after a year in Suffolk caring for my mother, I moved to London. Life had been on hold. It was all change. No plan. I took a job in a book shop and then tried banging on the doors of the publishing industry, but those doors remained firmly closed. It was at this moment I decided to go solo.

My principal strategy was ‘the more people I tell about this project, the less able I’m going to be to back down’. I scoured North and East London for a suitable premises. I had no money, but this didn’t seem to matter. Eventually I came across the little space on Kersley Road in Stoke Newington (just off Church Street). I rang the number in the window, persuaded my godmother to give me a cash advance and the bank manager that I had a viable business idea. To this day, I’m not sure anyone truly believed it was, but I was determined, and still am, to prove us all wrong!

The aim of the shop was to provide a ‘bricks and mortar’ selling space for emerging designers and makers. I knew a lot of creative people making interesting and beautiful things, but their outlets seemed limited. I picked a name – probably the hardest decision. After re-reading both the Alice books I settled on a quote from The Walrus and The Carpenter:

“The time has come,” the Walrus said

“To talk of many things:

Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax—

Of cabbages and kings

I filled the space with some brightly painted 1950s kitchen cabinets on loan from a friend and set about gathering stock from all the local designers and makers I could find. We stayed at Kersley Road for over 4 years, at the same time hosting regular Market Days at Abney Hall. The markets were the perfect way to meet makers and source products, and this sense of community carries through to the shop today. We still have brands that have been with us since day dot: Mister Peebles for example, or Tom Pigeon (formerly Lovely Pigeon) who I’ve carried for years and who seem to evolve and reinvent themselves just as the shop does.

While the little space on Kersley road was perfect for finding my feet, I soon ran out of room. My toilet doubled as a store cupboard and over-stock was wedged in every available cranny. Not only did we need more space, but also a better and more attractive location. Things had to change.

In October 2012, Of Cabbages and Kings took up residence at 127 Stoke Newington High Street with new housemate Knit with attitude. Following a fruitful evening down the pub with owner Maya Bang, we came up with the inspired idea of ‘moving in together’. Art and yarn? Why not? Like me she was in a tiny spot off the main drag and looking to expand.

The challenge was to make these two shops sit seamlessly side-by-side. We adopted an aesthetic that suited us both. On one side of the room a wall of wool; boxes filled with brightly coloured balls of yarn stacked one upon the other. Mirroring this my wall of products, pictures and prints. Of Cabbages and Kings has always been colourful, but we got bolder and brighter.

One of the biggest advantages of moving into 127 was the new big white wall with a gloriously high ceiling: the perfect gallery wall! Over the past 5 years we’ve held numerous exhibitions with a whole bunch of talented artists from Hackney and beyond. Those years at art school did come in handy after all!

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The community aspect of running this business is still the bit that matters to me and that I enjoy the most; feeling part of something much bigger than myself: the local community, the creative community, the shop team, etc. And it’s through working with local charities, hosting workshops, exhibitions and knit nights that we feel connected. The last 10 years have certainly been a challenge. There have been some incredible highs and terrible lows in this process, but the sense of achievement when it finally comes together makes it all worthwhile.

Yet again it’s all change! Well perhaps not all change. Our little shop has taken quite a beating from all this activity, and so to celebrate Of Cabbages and Kings’ 10th anniversary we’ve decided to have a bit of a spruce up. Then, on Friday 25th May we will be hosting an official 10th Anniversary Party, to which you are all officially invited. Please come and join us for drinks and nibbles and a goose at the new refurb from 4pm – 8pm at 127 Stoke Newington High Street, N16 0PH.

Thank you so much for all your support – we couldn’t have done it without you!

 

 

 

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Here Comes A City

An Interview with Marc Gooderham

As the face of London changes seemingly overnight, local artist Marc Gooderham has made it his mission to capture these views of the city, the architecture of crumbling and faded grandeur, that are beginning to vanish before our eyes. In the run up to his exhibition Here Comes A City, opening February 8th 2018, we took the opportunity to ask Marc about his paintings and his project.

What is your artistic weapon of choice? Pencil, pen, paintbrush, digital….

There are two. Naturally the paintbrush, but also the highly underrated yet extremely versatile piece of chalk!

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How long have you been painting and drawing? When did you start out?

As far back as I can remember. As a child I would sit and draw for hours. Still lifes, portraits, intricate buildings using pen and ink. The first piece of art I sold was to my art teacher at school. He kindly parted with £150 for a still life piece. As a kid, this was all very exciting. I tried not to let that first sale go to my head…honestly.

All your pieces come from real locations, mostly in London. What is it about the urban landscape that appeals to you?

I’ve always lived in London, so it’s a place I know and love. A place of intrigue and new experiences. It’s the contrast of old and new and glimmers of a forgotten time that really appeal to me.

Buildings with a fallen, crumbling exterior always hold an evocative beauty. Cities are a physical thing, they’re made up of lines and interesting forms, and the complexities of architecture and perspective can be challenging at times. But it’s all these things that make it the perfect subject to paint. Buildings command our attention. They’re our homes, places of work, places we admire and fall in love with. They help us navigate our way through life.

What is your process for working on a new piece? 

The only real way of getting to know a city is by walking it. Familiarising myself with the street level views. Making preparatory sketches and photographs. Revisiting a potential location at different times of day – sketch as much as possible! It has to have all the right components, which help make the final composition. Light and shade, suggestions of human life, a glow or reflection in a window, lights shimmering in the distance. These all give harmony and unity to a picture. Once these are in place, I begin work in the studio.

You are now working more with chalk pastels instead of painting, was there anything in particular that drew you to a new medium?

Working with charcoal and chalk pastels has been quite a liberating experience. I am still painting, producing large canvas pieces each month, again of the urban landscape.  I will always paint, however the pastel/charcoal lends itself to working quickly and more instinctively, 50% of the picture is created using my fingers.  There isn’t a lot of room for mistakes which adds to the excitement of this medium, speed is of the essence! It’s about capturing a certain feel or atmosphere and ultimately exercising the art of freehand drawing. It gives the artist a sketch – like fluidity.

Do find yourself returning to locations?

All of time. The locations are very familiar to me. Old haunts or places I have lived naturally become the subject of my work. The city is changing at such a rapid pace, there will always be a new discovery.

What is your favourite takeaway?

 Quite simply ‘Babur To Go.

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New Church Street Screen Print!

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As you may remember, back in June we ran a charity auction for The Abney Park Trust with John Gosler’s original art. Thanks to everyone’s support and efforts we were able to raise £260 for the charity. Don’t forget we still have a few of the cemetery maps and festival posters for sale if you’re interested in owning a bit of Stoke Newington history!

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While working with John on getting the auction together, we found another original in his collection. The piece was made in the same scraper board technique as the festival posters and featured a streetscape based upon the shops and buildings lining Stoke Newington Church Street. It was also done around the same time in the mid-90s to promote the Stoke Newington Midsummer Festival. We loved it so much we decided to reproduce it ourselves to sell in the shop!

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Since the scraper board left such a distinctive woodcut style texture, we wanted to pick up as much of that as possible and decided that a screen print would reproduce it best. We worked with Mark at Atom Gallery in Newington Green who printed them up for us, on  beautiful Southbank Smooth 310 gsm paper stock, hand pulling each one in a limited edition of 500. Each print is hand numbered and embossed with the Of Cabbages & Kings logo for authenticity.

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People frequently ask after locally themed prints, so we are delighted to be able to offer something drawn, made and printed right here, and exclusively available from Of Cabbages & Kings!

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MESH Studio with Marcelina Amelia

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On July 6th 2017 we will be hosting the official launch of MESH Studio with Marcelina Amelia here at Of Cabbages and Kings in Stoke Newington. On the opening night there will be a special pop-up shop from 5:30-9pm and the exhibition will run from July 7th until the end of August. We spoke with Marcelina to find out a bit more about MESH and the idea behind the brand.

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MESH is a multidisciplinary art brand and design studio founded by artist Marcelina Amelia: Meshing shit up!

Marcelina has taken her artwork beyond the confines of the canvass and has applied it to affordable art objects and wearable art as well as limited edition prints, books and other artworks in a range of different media. Rather than focusing on product design, Marcelina often combines her image making with found household objects to create a series of one-offs within a theme.MESH_STUDIO_GICLEEPRINTS_POSTER_MARCELINAAMELIA.jpgThe Mission Statement:

“Our aim is to embody the term ‘Renaissance girl’, and as the name suggests, we love mixing different techniques and forms, like screen-printing, fashion, painting, ceramics, publications, illustration, politics and activism, because art shouldn’t have any boundaries. We hope that this fluid and meshy structure of the brand, will allow us to collaborate more and make a lot of exciting work and happenings.

MESH’s first collection is titled The Unsatisfied Girls Club and is inspired by the recent movement of strong and powerful women who aren’t afraid to walk tall and proud, manifesting their thoughts, fighting for their rights at the Women’s Marches and other activist happenings all around the world. 

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The Unsatisfied Girls Club is a movement of women wanting and deserving more. Women uplifting each other, and rolling their eyes at the old outdated, stereotypical ways, not being ashamed of their ‘girliness’, standing for themselves and each other, because being a women isn’t a weakness. Research shows that many women are conforming to outdated stereotypes and acting ‘like an alpha male’ to succeed at work – including dressing like a man and hiding ‘girlie’ emotions.”

You can also read our interview with Marcelina on the blog from a few years ago when she had her last exhibition us.

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Abney Park Trust Fundraiser

Do you remember the legendary Stoke Newington Midsummer Street Fair? How would you like to be the proud owner of the original artwork for the 1995 and 1996 Festival Posters?

Of Cabbages and Kings are very excited to announce an exhibition and charity auction of original framed art by John Gosler to benefit the Abney Park Trust here in Stoke Newington. We have two framed artworks up for grabs, which will be on display at the gallery alongside the original illustration for the map of Abney Park Cemetery, which you may recognise as it is still in use today. 

If you should miss out on the auction do not fret as there are a limited quantity of signed reproductions of the Abney Park map and signed 1994, 1995 and 1996 festival posters available for sale.

In keeping with the original spirit of the festival, our exhibition will run from Monday 12th June, culminating with an event and the end of the auction at 4pm in the shop on Sunday 18th June.

Final bids must be placed by 4pm on the Sunday and we’ll be announcing the winners the same day. To get everyone feeling nostalgic, we’ve got some old programmes to look through alongside other festival memorabilia, we’ll be playing some familiar tunes and serving up some homemade lemonade. See you there from 3pm!

Place your bids here!

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1996 Poster Artwork
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1995 Poster Artwork

John Gosler is a freelance illustrator and former Stokey local. In 1994 John was asked to contribute a poster for the new Stoke Newington Street Festival. He says: ‘It was so brilliant (the festival, that is) that I joined the committee and did the design and artwork the first three posters in 1994, 5 and 6′.

The Stoke Newington Festival began in June 1993 as a small one day celebration on Church Street. It was such a success that by the following year it had grown into a week long event culminating on the final Sunday when the street was closed. With it’s focus on art, music and the local community, it ran for several years from 1994 to the early 2000s. Several stages were erected along the street hosting local bands and the numerous cafes and restaurants had stalls on the road running right up to Clissold Park.

John’s original images for the posters were worked in scraper board, a card surface coated with china clay and then a layer of black ink. Tools are used to scrape off the ink, revealing the white surface beneath, producing an image that looks similar to a woodcut or engraving. He then applied the colour over that with an airbrush.

Abney Park Cemetery is one of the original ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries opened in the mid 1800s to service London’s booming population. It was founded on the principles of renowned non-conformist Isaac Watts and became the burial place of choice for religious dissenters and radical thinkers of the time. It has a non-denominational chapel at its heart that was open to all, regardless of religious beliefs. Another unusual feature of the cemetery is that it was set up as an arboretum, with a wide variety of trees and plants as part of its original design. This meant that when it was abandoned in the 1970s it became completely overgrown and developed a uniquely wild atmosphere. Today the cemetery is maintained as an urban wilderness and is home to a variety of wildlife, as well as operating as a public park. It has also been the setting for open air theatre events and was among the venues taking part in this year’s Stoke Newington Literary Festival, an event that has it’s roots in the original Midsummer Fair.

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All Postersf you have any old photos or other bits and pieces at home please do let us know as we are hoping to put together a festival archive. Contact Maureen Diffley at maureen.diffley1@gmail.com

An Interview with Lauren Mortimer

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Our next exhibition will be with London based illustrator Lauren Mortimer. The opening night is on Thursday September 1, from 7-9pm, and the show will hang until the end of October.

We love Lauren’s graphite illustrations that combine nature elements in unexpected ways, and so it was very exciting when we got to sit down with Lauren for an interview and find out more about the lady herself and her artistic process.Lauren Mortimer_Profile

What is your artistic weapon of choice? Pencil, pen, paintbrush, printing squeegee…
The pencil is pretty much my best friend!

You originally studied Fashion Promotion at Central St. Martins. Has that influenced your current illustration work?
I think that it must have influenced my current work on some level, though if it has, not purposefully. By not having an illustration background, it allowed me to have more freedom and find my style quickly. My work does lend itself well to the fashion world though… I do a lot of editorial work for instance for fashion magazines.Lauren Mortimer Prints_2Many of your pieces include visual puns and hidden meanings, as well as surrealist combinations. How do those themes come together for your pieces?
I think the wonderful thing about illustration is that you can create anything you like on a piece of paper. There are no limits. Though my work is very realistic, I like to mix themes and merge objects together to create something more visually exciting – something that isn’t a reality. Patterns and texture play a huge part of my work too. I like to change the meaning of the objects, and nature will always be huge starting point for me.
 

Some of the projects you’ve worked on include illustrating books. Can you tell us a bit about the process for a larger project like that?
I’ve got 5 books under my belt so far, and I’m working my way through the final artwork of my 6
th, a colouring book. The wonderful thing about big projects like these is that you have a physical product at the end of it with all of your artwork put together. You see it in a different context to the piece of paper you created it on, and you have that proud moment. When my two cocktail books, Tequila Mockingbird, and Gone With The Gin arrived in the post from the publisher, it was really exciting, and definitely a highlight for me.Lauren Mortimer_Gone With The Gin Cover GWTG_Lauren Mortimer_Blade Rummer

There is a slightly macabre and dark undertone to many of your pieces, is that something you find yourself consciously drawn to? Do you find that graphite lends itself particularly well to those themes?
I think that it’s just my style and my interests that come together that way. By contrasting an object that’s soft and beautiful with something that’s hard, for instance, enhances each of them, and creates something poetic in my eyes. For me it’s more about how the viewer interprets it. Everyone should take what he or she wants from it in their own way.

How long have you been making prints?
I’ve been producing limited edition prints for about 4 years now! Time flies!

What is your favourite takeaway?
That’s easy… Pizzzzaaaaaaa!  

Thanks so much! You can see more of Lauren’s work on our website or in the shop. Feel free to pop by on Thursday the 1st to meet her in person, enjoy the work up on the walls and have a glass of wine.

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Lazy Social

Wowser! This is one doorstopper of a pulled pork sandwich and I’m very pleased to say it’s also delicious! I’ve just popped in to Lazy Social, our new neighbours at 101 Stoke Newington High Street, to see how it’s all going on their first day.

The cakes look amazing! (I think I may be back to sample those later) And for coffee fiends, it will be important to know that Workshop Coffee is the brand of choice.

Lazy Social is a big woody space, kitted out with large comfy sofas and rows of old school desks. The atmosphere is very relaxed, and inclusive, and Mums and Dads are very welcome. There’s plenty of room to swing your buggy or your bicycle. Lazy Social is certainly the first cafe I know to provide an indoor bike rack! A couple of the walls have been stamped with vast, bright graffiti and the front of the counter is filled with over-sized, primary coloured lego bricks. There are plenty of these for the kids to play with too.

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I’m amazed by how quickly this place has been turned around. When owner Carl introduced himself just a few weeks ago and told me when they were planning to open the first week of October I was quietly thinking he’d given himself a pretty tall ask. But here they are open, almost bang on schedule!

Of Cabbages & Kings has taken over one of Lazy Social’s walls as an extended exhibition area. At the moment we have on show very bold, black and white images by One Must Dash, coupled with Jack Ramsay’s detailed and comical illustrations of city living. We hope you enjoy it!

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