London Coffee Festival 2017: Combining Art with Coffee

Ever wondered what coffee and art have in common? Let’s face it, probably not. But, when I went online to buy my ticket for the London Coffee Festival, I came across the Coffee Art Project which combines coffee and art to raise money for charity.

The Coffee Art Project first ran in London in 2013 and gives artists the opportunity to submit work that relates to coffee or an experience with coffee. Artists can use any type of media they want to, from sculpture to photography and anything in between – the only criteria is that there must be a link to coffee.

Katie, a 19-year-old lover of coffee says: “For someone who is a huge coffee lover and finds coffee essential for my daily routine, I think it’s such a cool idea to make art by using coffee.”

Artists who submit their work are critiqued by a panel of judges which is made up of artists and industry professionals. The winning artist is awarded with a cash prize of £1,000 and three runners-up are awarded with £250.

The competition has taken place in several cities around the world such as Milan, New York and Paris. It will soon be launching in Buenos Aires, but not before taking part in the London Coffee Festival which takes place this weekend. Visitors to the London Coffee Festival will be able to vote for their favourite piece of artwork.

The submitted pieces are auctioned off, with some pieces being sold for over £1,000. All money raised by the Coffee Art Project is donated to Project Waterfall, a charity which aims to bring clean drinking water and sanitation to coffee growing communities around the world.

Since 2011, the charity has raised over £285,000 and provided clean water and sanitation to more than 13,000 people in coffee growing countries such as Tanzania and Ethiopia. 90% of coffee comes from third world countries and 60% of people in these countries do not have access to clean drinking water.

Anna, a 19-year-old art lover who had never heard of the Coffee Art Project before, says: “I think it’s a fantastic idea and I’d love to take part! Seems like a really good way of getting the community together to do something good for a community elsewhere.”

Ali, a 22-year-old Londoner says: “I think using coffee, something that is used every day worldwide and combining it with art is cool, creative and imaginative! What’s even better is that it is done for charity.”

The London Coffee Festival launches UK Coffee Week which takes place from April 10th – 16th and all of the donations it receives are given to Project Waterfall. The London Coffee Festival is open to the public from April 7th – 9th and adult tickets can be purchased online for as little as £16.50.

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7 Places You Have to Visit in London

From skyscrapers to markets, London has it all, making it almost impossible to see everything in one trip. Whether you’re coming to London for a day or a week, there are certain places you can’t afford to miss out on seeing – here are seven of them in no particular order.

1. The Shard


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The Shard. Image taken by Fred Mouniguet, courtesy of http://www.unsplash.com

London’s tallest skyscraper, The Shard, opened in 2013 and has dominated London’s skyline ever since. Its viewing platform, The View from The Shard, gives visitors the opportunity to see London from its 72nd floor and tickets can be purchased here.

Nearest tube station: London Bridge

2. Big Ben

Big Ben is over 150 years old and is a must see for anyone visiting London. It is part of the Palace of Westminster (or, as you may know it, the Houses of Parliament) which is where the government debates about the major political issues facing Britain. Below is a live stream I did on Periscope from opposite Big Ben on 03/04/17 to give you a feel of what it’s like to be there in person.

Nearest tube station: Westminster Station

3. London Eye

London Eye

View of the London Eye from Westminster Bridge. Image taken on iPhone 7 on 03/04/17.

The London Eye is one of London’s most iconic landmarks and is only a five minute walk from Big Ben. In only thirty minutes it will give you a view of the entire city from over 400ft in the air and, according to a Twitter poll I conducted, it’s the main tourist attraction my followers would want to see if they came to London. Tickets can be purchased here.

Nearest tube station: Waterloo

4. Sky Garden

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London’s Sky Garden is located at 20 Fenchurch Street and is based on its 34th-37th floors. It is situated opposite The Shard, giving visitors the best view of Britain’s tallest building available (as shown in the image above). There are even two bars in the Sky Garden, meaning you can get a drink as you take everything in. The best thing about it? Tickets are completely free.

Nearest tube station: Monument

5. Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace. GIF courtesy of GIPHY.

Buckingham Palace is the home and headquarters of the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom and is a huge attraction for both tourists and Londoners. From watching the Queen’s Guard march outside to relaxing in one of the three neighbouring parks, it’s easy to spend the day at Buckingham Palace.

Nearest tube station: Green Park

6. Covent Garden

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Covent Garden has everything tourists come to London to experience. It’s full of shops, restaurants, bars and even has its own market. It’s a place that often gets overlooked by visitors because it isn’t home to skyscrapers or famous tourist attractions, but it’s definitely worth visiting.

Nearest tube station: Covent Garden

7. Camden Market

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Camden Market. Image taken on iPhone 7 on 03/04/17.

At the heart of Camden is Camden Market. You can buy pretty much anything in the market, from clothes to food to art. It’s the perfect place to buy something unique from your trip to London that your friends back home won’t be able to get anywhere else. It’s also not too expensive and Camden Town is full of restaurants, bars and shops to keep you occupied once you’ve explored the market.

Nearest tube station: Camden Town


So, there you have it. Those are seven of the places you have to visit if you’re ever in London, according to someone who has lived here for over twenty years. There are dozens of other places I could have recommended, but I think these seven are the most enjoyable if you’re a tourist and want an insight into what London is really like.

If you want any other recommendations or want to complain that I’ve missed somewhere that you see as hugely significant, then leave a comment or tweet me @ConorClark.

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Album Review: ‘Natural Causes’ by Skylar Grey

Skylar Grey’s sophomore album, which dropped last September, offers something quite different to her first. Natural Causes provides consistency in a way Don’t Look Down failed to by setting the tone from the beginning of the first song and keeping it going right until the final track.

If you haven’t heard of Skylar Grey, that’s unfortunate, but not surprising as her most famous work is usually sung by other artists. She’s responsible for writing some of the biggest hits we’ve seen during the last decade, such as Love the Way You Lie by Eminem feat. Rihanna and Coming Home by Diddy – Dirty Money feat. Skylar Grey, so it’s hardly surprising that her own album is so powerful.

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Natural Causes cover, courtesy of www.skylargreymusic.com

The album opens with the eery Intro – Wilderness which features little besides Grey’s vocals, which sound electronic and make the listener feel like they’re alone in the woods with the “wolves” Grey sings about. Jump, the first full song on the record, features lyrics that revolve around feeling free, which is emphasised by the basic beat and hand clap combination on loop in the background.

Lemonade, the strongest track on the album, serves as a breath of fresh air when it opens with the strum of a guitar combined with an up-tempo beat. But, don’t be fooled by the sound as the lyrics hint at an unhealthy relationship Grey was in. She sings that she could have found “someone who wouldn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth,” but implies that she really enjoyed the torment of the relationship as “it’s all worth it” in the end. The track is placed perfectly as the third on the record as it offers something different from the first two to the listener without straying from who Grey is as an artist.

Kill for You (feat. Eminem), the fourth track on the record, opens with the sound of guns being fired in the rain, making it immediately clear that this song isn’t going to be any lighter than the first three were. The song has a strong beat behind it and its implications that Grey is being manipulated by her lover are reminiscent of her 2010 hit Love the Way You Lie. The song was originally going to be given to Rihanna, who tweeted lyrics from the chorus back in 2014, but Grey eventually managed to keep it for herself which she was “secretly happy about”. 

Come up for Air showcases Grey’s vocals as she sings about waiting for her lover to return to her. Grey’s pain is amplified by a heavy drum beat that can be heard throughout the song as her words echo as she sings. This echo makes the listener feel the longing that the lyrics portray as Grey sings of waiting for the person she misses to “come up for air” so she can be with them again. 

Despite featuring acoustic songs such as Moving Mountains, the second half of the album shows Grey experimenting with new sounds that are unlike anything she has ever released before. Straight Shooter experiments with rap and is a tongue-in-cheek song that is reminiscent of Grey’s 2012 single C’Mon Let Me Ride. Picture Perfect boasts a hypnotic beat and begins to bring the album to a close, but not before Grey delivers two more acoustic songs to solidify Natural Causes as one of the best albums of 2016.

We Used to Be Bad is a song that makes the listener reminiscent of a childhood they never had. It paints Grey as someone who lived dangerously, “burning through daddy’s cash and our nana’s cigarettes,” and is now nostalgically reminiscing about the best time of her life. The final track, Closer, closes the album in a way that is similar to White Suburban (the final track on Grey’s 2013 album Don’t Look Down). Like White Suburban, it was written and produced solely by Grey and it features little besides her voice and a piano, ending the album on a soft note and leaving her audience eager to hear more.

The album is available to buy on iTunes here and signed copies can be purchased on Skylar Grey’s website www.skylargreymusic.com.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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