More than 60 chefs, bartenders and artists contribute to new exhibition exploring mental health in hospitality | #speeddating | #tinder | #pof | #blackpeoplemeet


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Slap on a smile: the exhibition explores the hopes and fears of hospitality workers

(Wrestling Demons)

A new exhibition thought to be the first of its kind has opened in Fulham Town Hall exploring mental health among more than 60 top chefs, bartenders and hospitality workers.

Wrestling Demons, which is open until June 20 and free to attend, is the culmination of more than two year’s work by artist Alex Fatho-Bland. It appears as part of the Art in the Age of Now project.

Fatho-Bland split a group of more than 60 artists, chefs and bartenders into groups of threes for a chat he likens to speed-dating, prompted by the question “what are your hopes, dreams and fears?” The results of those conversations have inspired the 17 paintings now hanging in the medical wing of the old town hall.

Among those to take part were star chef Nuno Mendes, Hawksmoor co-founder Will Beckett, Le Bab chef Sam Brotchie, London Cocktail Club’s James Hopkins and Lili Vanili head baker Megan Holyoake.

Fatho-Bland told the Standard: “Art pretty much saved my life when I lost my sense of smell and taste after being assaulted. I know many people – not just those in hospitality – need a way to express how they feel and art, cocktails and food is a pretty awesome way to get people chatting.

“I’ve been hearing about way too many 100-hour weeks and people really struggling to get back into it again and crumbling. Truly, it breaks my heart – we have to be there for each other.”

He added: “There are very few who’ve not experienced struggles with their mental health.

“Expressing how we feel is so hard, but hopefully this project and exhibition is an inclusive space people can talk about relatable topics in colourful and tasty ways – where there is truly something for everyone on the menu”.

Cocktails will also be served, which like the artwork have inspired by the group chats, with profits from sales donated to The Drinks Trust. Prints of the pieces will be available to buy on site, with all proceeds going to Hospitality Action. There will also be tarot card readings and an interactive exhibit called Hell’s Den, which encourages people to add their own “personal hell”.

Art in the Age of Now curator Ben Moore added to Fatho-Bland’s sentiments: “In 2003 my brother went missing. His struggle with mental health, how the health system and society failed to help him is why it’s important we tackle the elephant in the room with every and all forms of expression, to break a stigma and actually help people.”

For more information, visit fulhamtownhall.com

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