29th March 2019
Open Space to present Tender Touches, an artist-designed café that appeals to the senses

From 17 May – 30 June 2019, Open Space will take over AMP Gallery in Peckham to create an ‘art cafe’ where everything – from the food to the furniture and the tableware – is both a functional object and an artwork. Blurring the lines between the gallery, the studio and the dining room, Tender Touches will host a series of talks, supper clubs and performances, taking place among new commissions by a group of international emerging artists.

Drawing on the food-based practice of Portuguese artist and co-curator of the exhibition, Inês Neto dos Santos, the exhibition aims to bring people together through food, using it as a catalyst for conversation and debate. The food menu, designed and cooked by Neto dos Santos, will be inspired by her interest in sustainable food practices such as preservation and fermentation.

A further eleven artists will create new commissions that make up every element of the cafe. Visitors will sit at dining tables stencilled with biomorphic designs made by Coco Crampton, will be served food on an assortment of hand sculpted ceramic crockery produced by Bea Bonafini, and will eat using cutlery designed by Lindsey Mendick. The tables will be laid with napkins by Sofia Stevi and sculptural candleholders by Clementine Keith-Roach, which are cast with the composite textures of various body parts. Bespoke wallpaper created by Marco Palmieri and paintings using corn, clay and diverse exotic fruits by Magda Skupinska will decorate the walls. The waiters will carry mirrored trays printed with photographs by Pixy Liao, while wearing hand embroidered aprons created by Cecilia Charlton and Goia Mujalli.

Guests will be invited to engage in a multi-sensory experience through the artworks as everyday objects, and to engage with food as they might view art. By encouraging a multi-sensory experience, the exhibition dissolves barriers between the audience and the art, while exploring the overarching themes of the body, flesh and physical boundaries.

Co-curators of Tender Touches, Huma Kabakci and Inês Neto dos Santos, said: “While forming the theme for Tender Touches, we were inspired by many historical references including the artist-run restaurant, FOOD, initiated by Gordon Matta-Clark and Carol Gooden in New York in 1971 and Gertrude Stein’s 1914 book Tender Buttons, which explores multi-sensory experiences in the everyday. Food as a medium of artistic expression and social commentary has a long history, and is experiencing something of a revival with a number of recent exhibitions and major institutional shows. Through our collaboration, we wanted to challenge the formal approach to exhibition-making through the interactive nature of visitors eating together, but also question the dynamics of the exhibition space through the presentation of functional art objects.”

The exhibition, co-curated by Huma Kabakci and Inês Neto dos Santos, will encompass a public programme of both free and ticketed events, ranging from supper clubs to artist performances. Tender Touches forms part of Open Space’s new, annually recurring exhibition series, Edible Goods, that will explore food as a medium in contemporary art.

Image Credit: Missing Soul (2019) glazed ceramics by Bea Bonafini pictured with Quench Cup by Studio Arhoj for Tender Touches, co-curated by Huma Kabakcı & Inês Neto dos Santos, organised by Open Space. Courtesy of Open Space and the artist.