Friday, 10 October 2008

Fruity Fish Tank

Fruity Fish Tank was a commission for the Java Restaurant in Bradford, originally it was made to go in a window that looked out onto a wall, but the window got bricked up an it set in another window. The fish were plastic fruit made into fish and had air blowing out of there mouths so they bobbed up and down in the tank. I had the idea while studying illustration at Bradford and Ikley community art school when doing a horoscope competition for Elle magazine. My illustrations turned more 3-dimensional over the years which was telling me to do sculpture and not illustration but now it comes under the label of textiles.
The Java was a wonderful vegetarian restaurant owned by Steve and Sara that opened opposite the theatre, it opened at a good time when the conservative government decided that students had to pay for fees etc, so I had no money to stay at college. I got a job to start with as a washer upper, then a Vegetarian chef two weeks later, then managed for a while. My studies began to lasp due to the long hours to pay my way at college. There was lots of fun people there and I made some great friends, the whole interior of the restaurant was made up of all the local artists work from lights to walls to the counter. The artist hung out there which brought them all together and also the Bradford festival crew, which I also got work in costumes, floats etc. I worked in the kitchen with Lisa who became my best friend and came out to OZ when I was there, Lisa now teaches film in Leeds. Also Jimmy with very long dreadlocks who use to work at the Treadmill recycled art Gallery and was an amazing drummer he drummed in the kitchen with the wooden spoons. He got me into joining the local samba band. Jimmy is now cooking and living in Denmark with Almuth and new son. Later Ash joined the team as the restaurant expanded upstairs and next door. Mully also got promoted to management and worked when I wasn't working. Grace was permanently on the coffee machine with hand made cups and saucers by a local potter.
The food original and created as we went a long there was 100's of meals to choose from that were written on giant blackboards as well as the usual Continental menu. The cakes were handmade and we eventually found a vegan cake maker who made so many we had to expand the counter fridges.
The place was packed day and till late at night and had tables outside all the way down the street all year round. In the evenings there was bands and entertainment for us and the costumers.
I felt like I spent my life there and my life evolved around the whole place. We were going to expand to Wakefield theatre where I would run it on my own with Mully, I had very grand ideas for that place where costumes and making the place as wild an arty as possible but due to the heritage orders on the theatre nothing could change so we dropped it. I later found out that my Grandfather use to run the theatre in the 1940's.
We made a another temporary cafe in an old church during the Bradford festival that Mully and I ran which a que the size of Wembley stadium. I was barely able to stand up at the end of the day.
In the summer on a Saturday night we use to jump in a van and go to raves in peculiar places. I was so tired I slept through them and woke up with the sun coming up and beautiful views of the countryside.
There was so much going on at the time I burnt out and left and went down to Norfolk and stayed with my sister before heading for Oz. In Oz I vowed not to work in another cafe and dragged my portfolio round to hundreds of job interviews in Graphics which failed, due to only having a 100 dollars in my pocket I resorted to getting a job in another vegetarian cafe Badde Manors. I met more like minded people there and realised I had to work there to support my own art.

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