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 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!

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

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!

Jo Gibbs’ new art exhibition ‘Scalloped’ at the Café: Nov 24th-Dec 21st 2023

We’re excited to announce that the latest local artist to exhibit at the BCCA is Jo Gibbs, whose new show Scalloped will be on display in the Café from November 24th to December 21st 2023.

Jo describes her eco-friendly art works as “Junk made beautiful”. Come and explore her shells, avocado skins and slates –  remade with coverings, paintings or etching – as well as Jo’s signature mirror works. And 25% of the proceeds from the sale of shells will benefit OneHumanRace, a grassroots group set up in 2015 by Rando Wagner, to support refugees stranded in Athens, Greece.

According to Kevin McCloud of Grand Designs fame, “Jo Gibbs breathes new life into humdrum objects with a gentle delicacy that gives them new meaning. The success of this kind of work depends on a great eye and a sensitive approach.”

You’ll be able to  view Scalloped whenever the Café space is open, including our new cooks’ nights. Keep an eye out for announcements of workshops by Jo. And be sure to look out for special views on November 24th and December 3rd.