North London Cafe | Mario's Cafe

Current Exhibition

Postcard Letters by Jeremy Cooper



This is the last of Jeremy Cooper's installations of unused commercial postcards in London cafés, back at the first location, Mario's, where Cooper eats breakfast every day he is in town. The Saggese family have run their traditional café since 1959, a place of refuge for its many regulars, generously priced and full of talk and friendship. Following family tradition, in 1989 Tony Saggese renamed the café after his son, who soon took over and is still there today. Postcard Letters takes its place as one of the regular art displays which Mario encourages locals to mount in his café.

The postcards in these installations have been gathered since the early 1980s, when Cooper began the practice of buying at least two of every postcard he liked, one for keeping the others for sending. Since 1999 he has stored the saved postcards in categories, seeking out over the last decade standard commercial postcards in his favourite fields, while sticking to personal aesthetic preferences (e.g. unposted, no lettering on front, largely bled images, no postcards of art except portraits, no animals etc.) During April and May 2017 at Podshavers, the restaurant in an Edwardian milking parlour which Cooper co-founded in 2000 near his home in West Somerset, he will display all three thousand of the mint commercial postcards from which the London installations were selected. If you know of anyone who would be interested in receiving information on or images of the Podshavers project, please ask them to email jeremycooper100@btinternet.com (the name of the restaurant was adopted from the cricket bat makers who used to work in the barn next door, where willow pods were hand-shaved to make bats).

These installations (see facebook.com/postcardpatterns) take place in parallel with selling shows of newly made artists' postcards, the first of which was The Postcard Is A Public Work of Art at X Marks the Bökship in Bethnal Green in February 2014. A second selling exhibition of postcard work by fifty artists, this time of pieces also from Europe and America, will be presented at Handel Street Projects in Islington in 2017. During 2015 / 16 Art Circuit arranged a touring show of part of Jeremy Cooper's collection of artists' postcards, culminating at Hestercombe House. Dated from 1960 to the present day, the collection receives a major exhibition by the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum in 2019. Provisionally titled The Postcard as Contemporary Art, this significant exhibition and catalogue will mark the BM's acceptance of Cooper's collection as a gift.

The café installations are not over yet, though, as several artist-helpers will now be designing their own postcard pieces - when these are done, a book illustrating all their and Jeremy Cooper's projects will be published, including café information.

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Past Exhibitions

Artists who have previously exhibited at Marios Cafe....

Kenneth Toby John Wotherspoon
William Leach
Sonia Lenzi / Gerry Badger
Eddie King
Gareth Halliday
Bettina Schroeder

Then....

The year was 1958 when my grandfather Mario opened up ‘Tony’s Restaurant’ at 6 Kelly Street. He hailed from the Puglia region of Italy and had decided to name the place after his son and my dad, Tony.

Things bobbed along nicely for several years, attracting lots of students from the local Polytechnic just around the corner. Polytechnic’s gone now, its luxury flats, as you’d expect.

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Then in true Italian fashion, Tony had a bust up with Mario and walked out, leaving Mario to run the place alone. He struggled to continue without him and eventually leased the place to a Chinese family. So in 1974 ‘Tony’s Restaurant’ became ‘The Golden Sun’.

10 years passed before the lease was up for renewal and for reasons best known to him, my grandfather refused to lease it to the Chinese family. So it sat empty for 4 years during which time he passed away. It was then, Tony (my dad) found himself redundant from the Greek restaurant he’d been working at. He was aged 55. So striking a deal with his siblings, the place opened up as a cafe again.

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So much to our disapproval ‘Mario’s Cafe’ was born on 6th June 1989 and this time they named it after me! At the time I was an uneducated unemployed pot smoking wannabe rock star, so I was roped in to help out. I was only supposed to be there for a year until I realised how much music was associated with the area. The Falcon Pub quickly becoming my favourite music venue.

After a year, my dad had a heart attack, had to go off to have triple bypass surgery and left me holding the baby so to speak. I’m still here and the rest is history....

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Now....

A small selection of photos of the cafe as it is today.

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'Mario's Cafe' (2010)

by Roland Denning



Visit

6 Kelly Street
Kentish Town, London
NW1 8PH

Open

Monday - Saturday, 7.30am - 4pm
Tube: Kentish Town
Bus: 46, 134, 214, 393, C2

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