Friday, 21 November 2008

Caffi Clonc

Last time I said there was always something going on in the School of Art. Well, today I had the nicest cup of tea I've had in ages.

It was part of an installation by Anna Evans called Caffi Clonc (clonc is Welsh for chat, and caffi is, well, cafe). Conceptually she is looking at language and the role it plays in society (in other projects as well: she told me that for nearly a year now, she has been cutting the hundredth word out of every issue of the Cambrian News). Practically the event was a transformation of the bare, scruffy walls of the project room into elegant black and white, with dim lighting, a long table with a white table cloth, three black seats, three white candles, and three black tiles. Visitors were presented with a slim menu offering a range of hot and cold drinks, and a choice of three flavours of 'word snacks': chocolate with cinnamon, ginger, or something fruity. I of course ordered the chocolate with cinnamon, and a peppermint tea. As I sat I was pleased to meet people I had never seen or talked to before (first years and art history students). It never occurred to me to wonder what words I might be served, or whether I would have a selection of random letters, like alphabet soup, but sweeter. Imagine my delight at being presented with a white plate dusted in white powdered sugar, lightly covering the word 'WONDERLUST'. Wonderlust is the name of a group of second year students planning a first exhibition in the restaurant on top of Constitution Hill.

Anyway, the biscuits were such fun to eat. It was hard to know where to start, and eventually I settled on a process of subtraction,

trying to make new words from the remaining letters each time I ate some, so 'WON LUST', 'ON LUST', 'LUST', and 'US' appeared on my plate, followed by the ghostly shadow of the original word, white plate against white sugar shadow, where the biscuits had once been. All the while quiet jazz added to the relaxed atmosphere. When I had finished my biscuits the waitress appeared again and offered me a 'words menu', instructing me to choose letters to make a word or short phrase for the next guest. I was then so excited to see the reaction of the next person to my word that I hung around taking pictures and savouring my tea, even after offering my seat to the next guest. And then... my word was spelled wrong! But it was a proper name, an unusual one, so fair enough...

Anna would like to do another cafe, which is a good thing, since several people said that we should have something like this every week!