Tuesday, 25 August 2009


By Millie Ross

What started as a credit crunchy opportunity to utilise some unused space, has become a hidden gem for the creative meanderings of locals, workshops, exhibitions and packed out parties.

Found (with a little searching), down a drive way off the quaint village high street of Battersea, the semi-decrepit industrial building which the Doodle Bar calls home was scheduled for demolition when Jules Cocke and illustrator Serge Seidlitz,, of neighbouring film and animation studio, Squint/Opera, had the bright idea.

So Doodle Bar was born, they white washed the walls and threw in some vintage couches and an espresso machine and hey presto, you got yourself a pop-up bar.

The interior was built through bartering and sourcing furniture from the giveaway website Freecycle, making Doodle Bar a low-cost, high-concept space, intent on spurring creativity in the community.

Since they opened in early June word has spread, with a little help from blogdom, Facebook and Twitter, and a lot of talk, plus the neighbouring businesses which include Vivienne Westwood’s studio, Norman Foster Architects and Alsop architects, dropping by regularly haven’t hurt.

“There’s been a wild amount of interest” Says Jules happily.

Not only a bar and café, Doodle Bar is a haven for scribblers. The walls, chairs, tables and even waiters were all blank canvasses, they walls, tables, chairs, even the VW and the ping pong table outside are now pretty well covered in scribbles, doodles, even some poetry and the odd slander.

"The waiters wear white jeans and shirts. You can doodle anywhere you want on their clothes. It's up to the waiters where they draw the line."

Not surprisingly the landlord loves what they’ve done and they now have plans to make it into a creative hub, a place for educational workshops and events, exhibitions and gigs. By November they’ll be up and running with a bar license and café.

The theme of doodle began with Doodle earth, a collaborative drawing architecture project organised with onedotzero. Doodle Earth toured with onedotzero’s film festival to cites and invited the public to come and collaborate on illustrated city installations, where the style of drawing would mirror the architecture and organic growth of the city. The more doodles that a city uploads the bigger the map gets, their Buenos Aries Doodle site had 50,000 people take part, making it one huge psycho-geographical map.

“It was hugely popular, an ice breaker amongst people,” Says Jules, “It was a meeting point which became about the atmosphere while creating rather than the actual product.”

Yes Doodle Bar and Doodle Earth are very much a nice physical reflection of a common thread running through current creative circles – collaboration, a meeting place and an interactive and constantly evolving work of art. Get down there before the walls fill up.

The DoodleBar, Ransomes Dock, 33 Parkgate Rd, Battersea, London; thedoodlebar.com; Café: 9am-6pm. Bar: check calendar.

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