North Tea Power is a cosy, and very stylish cafe located conveniently (for us) on Tib Street, and is renowned for excellent coffee, an exciting range of teas, and original exhibitions. If you’re buying a brew to take-out, you’ll also notice symbols hand-stamped onto North Tea Power’s takeaway cups, which were designed by previous interviewees of ours; Dr. Me and Steve Hockett, with the stamps themselves fabricated on our laser cutter. This week we met with exhibition coordinator Aliyah Hussain, who has been inviting artists and organising exhibitions at North Tea Power since early 2012.
Aliyah had exhibited at North Tea Power herself in September 2011, finding the experience to be greatly beneficial to her practice as an artist, not least due to selling all of the work on show! When the previous curator of the cafe walls moved on, Aliyah took over, and describes how there is a surfeit of creative talent in the area – she has been able to organise a full programme of exhibitions over the past two years, and is booked up well into 2014.
The exhibitions that take place at NTP are usually solo shows by artists who have never exhibited before, or who have never exhibited on their own. For instance, the previous exhibition was by Mariel Osborn, a member of The Volkov Commanders, who has since set up a new website to showcase and sell her artwork. The new exhibition, Stay, is also the work of an artist who has never exhibited on his own before, Barry Steadmund, and will remain on show for eight weeks.
Aliyah recounts how she decided to lengthen the exhibition period from one month to two, due to the ways in which people interact with the artworks in the context of a cafe; lots of locals use North Tea Power as somewhere to work, meet or just relax, spending minutes and hours sitting with the art. All the work that is shown in NTP is for sale, and very affordably priced by the artists, meaning that often work is sold to people who wouldn’t normally collect art, but who have had a chance to fall in love with a piece as part of their everyday routine.
This form of exhibition is less pressurised than a more conventional gallery show, and allows emerging artists to try out their ideas in an intimate and unusual space, as well as providing NTP with wonderful changing displays. There are exhibitions by Sally Gillford, Laurie Maun, Dan Russel, Laura Blake, Michael Holland and Dom Latham in the pipeline, with a preview for Barry Steadmund’s exhibition this evening – see you there!
Written by Lauren Velvick / Photo by Elle Brotherhood