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Guest Blog: Coffee, Culture and the Arts

As the most historic building in Liverpool’s city centre, the Bluecoat presents a continuous programme of thought provoking contemporary exhibitions, and a wide range of contemporary dance, music, literature, debate and other live events. It is our aim to provide a space where creativity can flourish and be shared; a space for people to meet, talk, work, perform, question, create, craft, display and enjoy themselves in an oasis of calm from the bustling city centre streets. 

One such space is Espresso - the perfect place to meet friends or colleagues for a slice of home baked cake and a cup of fresh coffee from our local supplier, Joe Black Coffee. For a tranquil cuppa, our Upstairs bistro, with high ceilings, traditional oak floors, and comfy sofas - serving superb locally sourced food and, of course, enough coffee to boost any creative practice – is the perfect location to encourage your artistic juices to flow. 

Nick Huxsted of Joe Black Coffee muses on the relationship between a good cup of coffee and creativity: 


“Creativity is something we all have, whether it’s a subconscious doodle while we’re on the phone, or painting the Sistine Chapel, the joy we can all receive from creative pursuits is arguably unrivalled. Music, poetry, art and literature all invoke emotions that are difficult to replicate, but they don’t have to be masterpieces to be enjoyed. All we really need to express ourselves and open our creative floodgates is the willingness to try, and a little perseverance to reach our full potential, whatever threshold we each may have.

But there are a few tools that we use to help fuel our creative ambition; here I’ve put together a few examples of what some of the greats used to stoke the midnight oil. Namely coffee: and apparently we love it!

After oil it’s the world’s largest commodity and from its humble origins in Ethiopia, it’s turned into a huge industry that shows no sign of slowing down. We drink it for a wide variety of reasons, to wake up our misfiring neurons after a night of slumber, we enjoy it with our friends content to gossip about life’s adventures, we put the world to rights with frothy moustaches and for reasons that seem slightly counter-intuitive, we enjoy our espressos after a late night dinner. Prolonging sleep until its rejuvenating effects and mild twitches have worn off. 

Many artists, scholars and writers have used coffee to heighten their creative prowess and put their enlivened synapses to good use. Sometimes the relationship between coffee and art runs deeper than we think.

Beethoven
Ludwig von Beethoven was a well-known lover of coffee. His penchant for strong coffee was a morning ritual that was in some respect the catalyst for his day of prolific compositions. Apparently he was quite fastidious in its preparation and insisted that 60 beans wereused in every cup. No more, no less. We can only assume that his serene masterpiece, Moonlight Sonata, was written under the influence of orange juice.

Balzac
Balzac was a French novelist and playwright, much admired and his works have influenced the likes of Dickens, Proust and Edgar Allen Poe. His work ethic was legendary and he would often have a short evening nap before getting up at midnight to work for 15 hours straight. Fuelled of course by his love of coffee. He was reported to drink anywhere between 30 – 50 cups a day. In his work “The pleasure and pain of coffee” he reports:

“When you have produced the finest grind with the least water possible, you double the dose by drinking two cups at a time; particularly vigorous constitutions can tolerate three cups. In this manner one can continue working for several more days.”

It’s probably best not to take it to this extreme though!

Angel Sarkela-Saur and Andrew Saur
Rather than fuelling their creativity with coffee, Angel Sarkela-Saur and Andrew Saur have been using as it in a slightly different fashion. For over a decade this unique couple has been painting with coffee, developing a way of layering the coffee on the canvas they simply call “Coffee Art”. They have grown global attention for their amazing paintings that use the deep hue and colours that coffee provides. 

 

They have exhibited their work in Milan, Athens, The United States and Europe. 


You can find coffee, in some form or another in the majority of their rather beautiful works.

Bach
Johan Sebastian Bach, as most of us know, was a German composer who seemed to have a weakness for the black stuff. So fond was his love of coffee that he wrote a cantata about it. Originally titled; “The Coffee Cantata.”

Mm! How sweet the coffee tastes, more delicious than a thousand kisses, mellower than muscatel wine. Coffee, coffee I must have, and if someone wishes to give me a treat, ah, then pour me out some coffee!

Benjamin Franklin
And finally we come to one of the founding fathers of the United States, who sums it up very nicely indeed:

“Among the numerous luxuries of the table...coffee may be considered as one of the most valuable. It excites cheerfulness without intoxication, and the pleasing flow of spirits which it occasions, is never followed by sadness, languor or debility.””


If you would like the opportunity to write a guest blog for the Bluecoat, please contact marketing@thebluecoat.org.uk

Tags:Eat & Drink

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Bluecoat is Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, the oldest in the UK. Our landmark building, located in the ...

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