Javaid Alvi – artist in residence @ The Boundary
Once upon a time when I lived in London and the streets seemed paved with gold I used to love going out to eat. I could hardly hear about a “room” and I was off to inspect and dine (Michelin style). I suppose, in the final analysis, there are many more restaurants that I would like to have eaten in than I actually have, but hell, you can’t have it all can you?
My top 5 (in no particular order) were:
The Criterion (room, less food), The River Cafe (food and location), Club Gascon (food in the dark), The Oxo Tower (location, view, cocktails) and any old Carluccio’s (apart from the one in Islington for which I bear an eternal grudge).
Please bear in mind these are old favourites so are in no way a current recommendation. I have been to a few Conran establishments, but the food has never been memorable. We once went to Conran’s Alcazar in Paris which featured a mural on les escaliers by Javaid Alvi, an artist I sat for a number of times when we both lived on opposing sides of the Murder Mile in Clapton. How glamorous. Despite his rich patron, said artist was to all appearances starving in a garret. I still took his cash for sitting there for hours though. Despite (or perhaps because of) my penchant for eating out, I wasn’t exactly Charlie KuNuckers on the other side of the road.
In the end sitting in silence, albeit fully-clothed, was way too weird and quite a lot boring and I eventually stopped going as there seemed no end in sight. No great work of art that is to say. He never once showed me his work and I never once asked. I definitely have an attitude to sitting, it is the same as that I adopt when I go to the GP. I sit down and keep quiet and don’t ask any questions no matter what the diagnosis. Sometimes I have to try not to cry, or act mad. Hard to believe I know, but perfectly true.
Alvi went on to do the mural in Alcazar and is now the artist in residence at The Boundary in the East End. There’s a photo of the mural in Paris below: I wonder which funny shape I am?