02 March 2016

Business Profile: Canvas and Cream

Canvas & Cream is a exciting mix of food and art located on London Road. It was set up by mother and daughter team Joanna and Emily Gore, and we wanted to know more about their business, so we asked Joanna a few questions:

How did Canvas and Cream get started?
From the outset this was a community venture.  We found this building on London Road - it had no electricity, no walls, no plumbing and many holes in the roof, floors, walls etc. It was a big project and we invited local people to get involved. 

We taught people how to tile, how to build walls, decorate, even wire up lights and lay parke flooring. We learnt many skills ourselves from books, the internet and from past DIY endeavours, it was a fantastic experience, a vast public art project.

What did you do before opening C&C?
Before conceiving of Canvas & Cream I was a free-lance artist for 12 years working alongside people in disadvantaged groups such as those in the mental health system and deprived youths. I studied Fine Art and went on to get a PhD in the Role of the artist in exposing and challenging hierarchical structures and concepts in institutions.

Emily, my daughter, had been working in events for large entertainment company, she also had her own small bakery business supplying cafes and markets with her homemade cakes. She is a talented baker and has since taught her grandmother to bake many of Canvas & Cream’s impressive cake offer.

After time as a lecturer in fine art at Middlesex university, and running art courses for Tower Hamlets council I got together with Emily and we decided to use our combined knowledge and experience to create a community arts hub, and close to our home in Forest Hill seemed like a great place.

What is the most popular dish on your menu (or your favourite)?
Our ‘to die for’ stack of pancakes served with berries, crème fresh and pure Canadian maple syrup, they are not only made from the usual pancake ingredients but also include cream cheese!

In the evening it has to be our oven Roasted Duck Breast with Creamy Mash, Roasted Fig, Tangy Red Fruit & Wine Jus or the Mushroom Cobbler, a Creamy Mushroom & Tarragon Stoop baked with Cheese Scones, both warming and perfectly comforting for the winter months.

I must mention our fantastic variety of delicious homemade cakes, not just because we have a fabulous display but because most of them are made by my mum!

As well as the restaurant what other activities do you do?C&C Gallery is an artist led contemporary art gallery that collaborates with artists to promote and exhibit innovative and thought provoking art by emerging and mid-career artists. We build long term relationships so as to support artists who share an interest in narrative, identity and personal and cultural histories whose work is intellectually challenging and socially relevant.

The next show up is ‘Heavy Weather’ - new works by Trevor Appleson an established Artist/photographer who has found innovative and interesting ways of photographing the weather. The opening is on Friday 11th March, 6.30pm and everyone is welcome.

We also have six studios currently occupied by three illustrators, an upholsterer/artist, a flower/sculptress, and a fashion designer and we currently have one vacant studio.

What do you think is the best thing about Forest Hill? I love the mix of people and sense of community in Forest Hill, we get customers of all ages, from elderly couples for cream teas, lots of babes in arms, to young professionals meeting friends for cocktails, families for Sunday Lunch. Forest Hill know how to be a community and it is wonderful to be a part of that.

What would Nigella say?A few years ago Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi visited the gallery, Saatchi bought the whole show by Rafal Zawistowski before it opened. We were delighted when Nigella tweeted about the inspiring cakes and fairy light gift-wrap.

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