June in the Café: John Torjussen’s historic photo record of Brixton

June’s exhibition at the Bonnington Café displays John Torjussen’s wonderful historic photographs, documenting his years in Brixton: “There was an atmosphere of being a bit free and a bit mad, welcoming freedom and madness.”
From his squatting days in Kellett Rd onwards, John Torjussen photographed what he saw – providing a spontaneous record of street scenes.  “I think I took all the portraits because I felt it was a special time, interesting people from all over the world visited, and I just tried to document that without style or agenda. I am inviting people from those days to the exhibition-those that are still alive-to see themselves and familiar faces and scenes from the past.”
Torjussen squatted a lot in Brixton, and watched the 1981 Riots from his front step. His vivid portraiture and street scenes evoke the vibrancy and immediacy of that period, as well as his years as a reggae musician, playing “in houses and basements, rather than in public.”
Drop into the Bonnington Café to explore or revisit those heady days – when squatting was legal and art was everywhere!

The Café and Exhibition are both open throughout the whole of June – Tuesday to Saturday 6-10.30pm, and Sundays & Tuesdays 11am – 3pm.  And starting the month off, there’s a Private View this Sunday 2nd June, from 6.30pm  to 10.30pm, with live Reggae music and a Donations Bar. All welcome!

Torjussen’s work warmly captures the joy and art of 1980s Brixton

Jane Higginbottom’s weavings grace the Café during May

Our fabulous series of Art Showcases at the Bonnington Café continues, with this UK premiere during May 2024 of Jane Higginbottom’s superb Colours of Finland and Beyond, a set of naturally-dyed weavings and drawings from her 2022 Finnish residency at Kulttuurikauppila, augmented with more recent larger weavings using her hand-dyed Finnish yarn.

Jane’s work is she says a direct response to the land itself, exploring the emotional texture of distance from family- the living and the ancestors. It is imbued with a warmth of feeling, expressed in delicate yarn, and with natural colours drawn from the landscape.

Jane Higginbottom has an MA (Camberwell/Chelsea) and is a member of the Royal Society of Sculptors. In 2023 she spent a week in Sweden with the Swedish artist, Susannah Gunnarson, as part of the Bridge project (Artcan), showing their work at the OSKG Tjornedala gallery space in November 2023. Swedish artists are visiting London in 2024 for a return exhibition.

Jane also works at Roots and Shoots, “a sanctuary for nature” in central London, offering vocational training for the local community with its biodiverse wildlife gardens. The organisation will also be cooking in the Bonnington Café over the summer, starting 14th May from 11am to 1pm (Tuesdays only) for 6-8 weeks initially, offering meals on a ‘pay-what-you-can basis’ to support Roots and Shoots and its students.

To see Jane’s work during May, you can visit the Bonnington Café to dine during the evening on Tuesdays to Saturdays, and on Sunday and Tuesday lunchtimes. Jane will also be hosting a Private View on Monday 13th May between 6pm and 9pm All are welcome. And she’ll also be hosting a Weaving Workshop  on Tuesday 14th May from 11am to 1pm. The workshop price is £20 for 2 hours (materials included), or you pay what you can afford on a sliding scale of £5 to £20. For enquiries, please contact Jane at jane@janehigginbottom.co.uk

Roman Lokati show brightens up Bonnington Café during April

The Bonnington Café hosts a wonderful new show during April by artist Roman Lokati. The best way to see his colourful canvasses is to dine with us any evening from Tuesday to Saturday, or Sunday lunch.

Roman Lokati is an extraordinarily versatile artist, who’s exhibited widely in London and across Europe. His paintings dazzle with colour and energy; many are peopled with figures caught up in their own solitary worlds. He reproduces these images in fabric and ceramics; and he works in oil, acrylic and water colours, using different printing techniques to show how humans function through the complexity of modern urban life. Roman’s recent life-size sculptures in Chelsea, some with rucksacks, are alone, gazing around uncertain of their next step.

Fascinated by the worlds of plants and animals, Lokati has run community workshops focused on water colours and printing techniques to explore the intricacies of the natural world in more depth. And his recent collaboration with fashion designer Paul Smith has produced paintings in one of the new Paul Smith shops in Borough Market.

The Bonnington Café and Centre warmly welcomes the Roman Lokati exhibition during April. For more on our opening times and the full address, see the poster below. Come and enjoy!

Raffle offers chance to be photographed by artist Bari Goddard in THE DRESS

(Main photo: Pippa D in THE DRESS. Copyright Bari Goddard)

A unique raffle is running until March 28th 2024 with just one prize – being photographed in a stunning white dress by Bari Goddard, the avant-garde and wonderfully controversial Welsh singer-songwriter, artist, and photographer.

Bari’s latest show, THE DRESS, is also running throughout March at both the Bonnington Centre and the Bonnington Cafe in Vauxhall, SW8 1TD. 

The show – several years in the making – features dozens of notable LGBTQ figures, including celebrities such as Holly Johnson – wearing the same beautiful white dress. Each wearer brings their own personality and emotions to their photoshoot – leading to a richly textured and emotional show.

Bari’s work as an artist encompasses film-making, painting, photography, and music. He has performed and recorded with Jimmy Somerville, Madonna, Cliff Richard, Banderas, Horse, Vinna Bee, Anarchistwood and Then Jerico.

Critic Andrija Seifried is full of praise for Bari’s new work: “Bari shows both a mischievous and sometimes grotesque sense of humour through placing before us a complex tableau of uniquely different scenarios and moods. What we wear is rarely who we are.

“You really have to know the artist to understand and journey through this bizarre carnival of characters which include Holly Johnson of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Adele Anderson of Fascinating Aida, Charlotte Hunter of Harry Potter film fame and a myriad of other straight, gay and trans and non-binary subjects.”

Until March 28th, raffle tickets will also be on sale for £10 each featuring a remarkable prize – a photoshoot for the winner while wearing THE DRESS at a London location. The prize draw will be made at a special event at the Bonnington Centre shortly after the raffle closes, and the winner notified. 

The raffle winner will be the last ever person to be photographed in THE DRESS before Bari himself dons it for the last time, and then sets it on fire! 

Raffle tickets can be purchased for £10 each, and you can purchase as many as you’d like, using the QR code above. Please include in the Notes section your name, and THE DRESS RAFFLE. Bari has kindly decided that 50% of all proceeds from the raffle will go to the Bonnington Centre Community Association, a not for profit, community-led resource.  

While the City Sleeps: Copyright Bari Goddard

Bari Goddard’s spectacular show THE DRESS comes to the Centre and Café – March 2024

(Main picture: 21st Century Pieta, copyright Bari Goddard)

The Bonnington Centre is excited to announce that Bari Goddard, the brilliant avant-garde and wonderfully controversial Welsh singer-songwriter, artist and photographer is premiering his exhibition THE DRESS throughout March 2024 at both the Bonnington Centre and the Bonnington Cafe.

The show – several years in the making – features dozens of notable LGBTQ figures, including celebrities such as Holly Johnson, donning the same beautiful white dress. Each wearer brings their own personality and emotions to their photoshoot – leading to a richly textured and emotional show.

Bari’s work as an artist encompasses film-making, painting, photography, and music. He has performed and recorded with Jimmy Somerville, Madonna, Cliff Richard, Banderas, Horse, Vinna Bee, Anarchistwood and Then Jerico.

Critic Andrija Seifried is full of praise for Bari’s latest work: “Bari shows both a mischievous and sometimes grotesque sense of humour through placing before us a complex tableau of uniquely different scenarios and moods. What we wear is rarely who we are.

“You really have to know the artist to understand and journey through this bizarre carnival of characters which include Holly Johnson of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Adele Anderson of Fascinating Aida, Charlotte Hunter of Harry Potter film fame and a myriad of other straight, gay and trans and non-binary subjects.”

THE DRESS opens for viewing on March 1st, and can be seen in the Top Room either by attending booked classes or events during March, or by requesting admittance. The easiest way to see Bari’s photographs in the Bonnington Café will be to eat there – with the Café now open Tuesday to Saturday evenings from 6pm to 10.30pm, and for Sunday brunch from 11am to 3pm. There’s also a Private View on Sunday 3rd March from 5pm-8pm. Please email bari.goddard@gmail.com for more information. 

Remarkable raffle

Until Thursday March 28th, raffle tickets will also be on sale for £10 each – with no limit per person – featuring a remarkable prize: a photoshoot for the winner while wearing THE DRESS at a London location. 

The raffle winner will be the last ever person to be photographed in THE DRESS before Bari himself dons it for the last time, and then sets it on fire! The raffle is now open, and tickets can be purchased for £10 each, via Paypal using the QR code below

Bari has kindly decided that 50% of all proceeds from the raffle will go to the Bonnington Centre Community Association, a not for profit community led resource.  

Pippa Davenport, one of the Trustees at the BCCA, who has herself also been photographed by Bari in THE DRESS, says she is delighted that the show will be in the heart of Vauxhall, which enjoys the second highest LGBTQ+ population in the UK.

“Like any member of the LGBT+ community, moving to a new area was a little daunting. But soon after arriving, I realised how special the Lambeth community is,” says Pippa. “That’s why, when I was asked to put myself forward as a trustee of the Bonnington Centre, I said I’d love to. Helping to reopen the Café – and helping to make the Centre a place where anyone can come and feel safe is even more important now.

“The artist Bari Goddard took this wonderful photo of me – which represents to myself the strong person I’ve become over the 29 years since my surgery. But also the vulnerable, unsure person that’s still inside.”

The wonderful Pippa Davenport, a BCCA trustee, in Siren of the Silent Age (copyright Bari Goddard)

Bonnington Café fully reopens

Trustees of the BCCA are pleased to announce that one of south London’s most iconic restaurants – the community run Bonnington Café in Vauxhall – is fully reopening from Tuesday February 6th onwards. 

Outstanding and affordable vegetarian and vegan food from around the world will once again be available for bookings and walk-ins each Tuesday to Saturday night from 6pm to 10.30pm – and for Sunday brunch between 11am and 3pm. The Café is just a short walk from Vauxhall Station

Cooks in the Café will change nightly – with the present roster including food strongly influenced by Syrian, Moroccan, Pakistani, Polish, Iranian and English cuisine, and with more outstanding cooks being added in the weeks ahead. 

Natalia Boteva, the Bonnington Café’s new organiser, is excited about regrowing the community business. “It’s been a delight to discover local chefs and their amazing food. Now we can’t wait to provide affordable meals for both Vauxhall residents, and also for London’s many vegetarian and vegan food lovers.”

Green oasis

Set in the green oasis of Bonnington Square, the Bonnington Café at SW8 1TD is a Lambeth gem, first opening its doors in 1982 during the neighbourhood’s famous squatting years. In the early 1990s, the Bonnington Centre Community Association (BCCA) purchased the entire building at 11 Vauxhall Grove thanks to a National Lottery grant, and has run the site for the benefit of the whole community ever since. After decades of success, the Café was temporarily closed in late 2021. Since then it has undergone significant renovations – and the local community has devoted considerable effort to restoring the Café to its former glory. 

Today the Café is directly managed by the BCCA – though with the same commitments to affordability, great vibes, and fantastic vegetarian and vegan cooking. The Café is also maintaining its tradition of not being licenced to serve alcohol, with customers instead welcome to BYOB. 

Hind is one of our new cooks on the roster

Diverse cuisines

Since late 2023 the Bonnington Café has been building up its roster of cooks both new and old, in readiness for this week’s full reopening. 

“The community has come together to revive our much missed Café , welcoming new chefs and old, and building on our diverse neighbourhood’s history of local action and self-help,” says Megan Doolittle, the BCCA chair. “The wonderful Café in the Bonnington Centre is alive and well again!”

Among the regular cooks today is Hind Danoun. Hind is from Syria and came to the UK six years ago. As a way of helping her feel she belonged in her new home, she started making her mum’s recipes, going on to found her own catering business called Utopia. 

Vic Conran actually lives in Bonnington Square – so is as local as it gets. Vic was a cook at the Café during its early years – and relishes the chance to cater for a new generation of customers. “It’s great to be back with a fresh start, and have the chance to bring the community imaginative, seasonal and delicious food once again,” she says.

And many long time Bonnington Café customers will surely remember Misiek, one of the original cooks’ collective who continues to dazzle with his Polish-inspired dishes. 

Be sure to check out the full roster of cooks for the weeks ahead, and to book your dinner and brunch slots! https://bonningtoncentre.org/eating-at-bonnington-cafe/

Misiek: one of the original cooks who has returned to the Bonnington Café

Rowan Vuglar artshow brings Australian flora to the Café! February 2024

Local resident Rowan Vuglar is the latest artist to exhibit in the Bonnington Café.

Just ahead of Spring, his beautifully colourful paintings of flowers highlight the rich flora of western Australia. They can be seen when the Bonnington Cafe is open for dining (now Tuesdays to Saturdays 6pm to 10.30pm, and Sundays from 11am to 3pm), as well as during events and viewings during February. You can join Rowan for a Special View at the Café on Sunday 18th February, from 5pm to 8pm.

Rowan Vuglar started his painting career in Perth, Western Australia, His current exhibition at the Bonnington Centre celebrates that state’s famous wildflowers. This represents about half of a body of work produced on that theme by Rowan in 2022, as well as several more recent pieces.

Rowan came to Bonnington Square in 1986 at the height of its squatting history. He had a big hand in developing the Harleyford Road Gardens, and at one stage opened a community library. His first squat had no electricity or gas – and had just one water tap at knee height!

From 1988-2002 he was a member of Stockwell Studios. He has held many exhibitions here and overseas, and has sold work consistently over a wide career. For more, see https://www.rowanvuglar.art/

Rowan at the Café

 

UpMarket Market Christmas Fair 2023 – Dec 9th & 10th

In the splendidly revamped Bonnington Café, 15 local creatives and friends of Bonnington Square are returning for a second Christmas Market.

It’s very much a community event and in the spirit of ‘buy local’ – and is pulled together by local resident Lulu Boden, a jewellery maker in her spare time. Taking place on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th December from 11am to 4pm each day, do look out for our new crafters and highlights this year.

The ever-popular Tarot card readings are on Saturday in the Middle Room with David Spofforth. Also, on Saturday in the Centre, Chiara Pedrazzi is offering mini sessions of craniosacral therapy, pranic healing and Reiki – all by by donation. The day will end serenely at 5pm sharp with a Gong Bath led by Jo Culf in the Top Room (£10). Bring a rug to stay toasty, although the heating will be on!

On Sunday the Café will again buzz from 11am to 4pm with 15 assorted stalls featuring the Chocolate Detective; Elniovoe’s elegant African fabric bags; Jodie Boyd’s natural products from Neals Yards Remedies; fine silver jewellery from Tales of the Earth; and even knitwear made in the Square by Sandra Roe and her sister. Plus new stall holder Lucy Bond will be selling candles, melts and stocking fillers.

Rita Keegan (pictured at last year’s market) also returns with her pearly jewellery – and her long-time friend Mary Jeremiah is selling her zesty hot stuff sauces. This event also showcases great artists: Beth Higgins’ vibrant Xmas cards, and Gianinna Delphino’s individually handmade sketchbooks. And Jo Gibbs is currently displaying her ‘Tunnocked’ scallops, jewellery and eco art in the Café. You’ll also find Tess Stone showcasing prints and cards; and the famous ‘Good Vibes’ silk screen print by Chris Coleman is on sale. Plus there will be vintage and more!

Bonnington Café expands to three nights a week

The famous Bonnington Café is now available for bookings and walk-ins for three nights a week as we continue to roll out services. You can now eat at the Café  on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 6pm to 10.30pm, for servings of excellent vegetarian and vegan food.

On Thursday November 30th, the excellent Arfa Shah returns to the Café with her dazzling synergy of Asian and European vegan and vegetarian dishes. “I have a passion for cooking and have been cooking for over 20 years,” she tells us. “I am an innovative chef with a creative flair in a five star hotel (Michelin star). And I’ve adapted my style to accommodate classic European with Asian cuisine.” To book a table for Thursday November 30th, call or text Arfa on 07833 582133; or our Café organiser Natalia on 07999 953512

Then on Friday December 1st, Syrian cook Hind Danoun is back with us.  Hind is from Syria where she studied philosophy, before coming to the UK six years ago. She says it was was hard for her to feel like she belonged in a different country, and so to help create a place that felt like home, Hind decided to use cooking to show her culture. She started making her mum’s recipes, adding her own ideas and then starting her own business called Utopia. To book a table for Friday December 1st, call or text Hind on 07597446957; or Natalia on 07999 953512.

Returning to the Bonnington Café on Saturday December 2nd is local resident and cook Vic Conran. Vic has had a love for food forever – and for her, cooking is always about finding ways to put foods together, discovering symmetries in flavours, colours and textures. She has lived in Bonnington Square since 1983 and was cooking in the Café in the early 1990’s.

The Café will be open until Saturday December 21st this year for diners before returning early in the New Year – when Sunday lunches are also likely to be added to the growing menu. “We are so pleased to see the Bonnington Café back at the heart of our wonderful community, with its wonderful mix of new and returning cooks each serving mouth-watering vegetarian and vegan food. Come and give us a try!” says Natalia Boteva, the BCCA’s café organiser.

The Bonnington Café Returns! Saturday 18th November 6.30pm-10.30pm

After months of hard work and preparation, trustees are delighted to announce that the famous Bonnington Café finally returns this month, with fabulous vegan and vegetarian evening meals once again on the menu.

A roster of cooks, both new and old, will be delighting our palates.  Our first commercial night – for which we’re prioritising supporters and the local community – is on Saturday November 18th from 6.30pm to 10.30pm. We’ve also put affordability at the heart of our nights. Main courses will be £12, and starters and puddings £5 each. The Café will also still be BYOB for alcohol – with a £1 corkage fee for each bottle.

Welcoming diners for the first night will be local cook Hind Danoun. Hind is from Syria, and came to the UK six years ago. She studied philosophy in Syria and wanted to find a new home. Hind tells us it was hard for her to feel like she belonged in a different country. She thought about how to create a place that felt like home. Hind decided to use cooking to show her culture. She started making her mum’s recipes and really liked cooking. She added her own ideas and then started her own business called Utopia.

You can call Hind or Natalia to book: Hind is at 07597 446957; and Natalia at 07999 953512.

“We are so pleased and excited to be reopening the Café at last,” says Megan Doolittle, chair of the BCCA trustees. “We’ve had such amazing support from our friends and neighbours, and want to thank everyone who has been pitching in to make it happen. We can’t wait to welcome everyone.”

The Café will then be back on Saturday November 25th; then for three nights each week on Thursdays to Saturdays, starting November 30th. Our aim is to have the Café fully reopened for evening service by the Spring. Check out our revamped website with its new Eating at the Bonnington Café tab – where you can see who’s cooking on which night, and find their mobile number to call and book a table. You’ll also be able to walk in on the night – though we can’t always guarantee a table.

We look forward to seeing you back at the famous Bonnington Café soon!