The Unique Art Extravaganza of the Far Rockaway Bar in Shoreditch

The staff are being trained, the finishing touches are being applied and Shoreditch’s hippest new bar and restaurant is about to open it’s doors to the public for the first time.

But Far Rockaway is a place with a difference covered from head to toe as it is with original art from some of the brightest artistic talents around. Curated by Ben Oakley of ‘Ben Oakley’s Gallery‘ and Kevin Martin of ‘Hoxton Gallery’, the past five months have seen an abundance of art commissioned and created, establishing the Far Rockaway at the heart of Shoreditch’s artistic scene.

Named after a resort, popular with New Yorkers in the 50’s and 60’s, the venue doesn’t just boast art, a 4000 strong library of DC and Marvel Comics can be picked up and flicked through. It’s a unique place perfect for Shoreditch’s unique population and on point in a world where street art is becoming more and more acceptable and Marvel Movies smash box office records time and time again.

The Far Rockaway is Shoreditch's newest bar and restaurant
The Far Rockaway is Shoreditch’s newest bar and restaurant
On Curtain Road in Shoreditch it is packed full of art
On Curtain Road in Shoreditch it is packed full of art

For Ben Oakley it’s a special place “it’s a visual feast” he says “a place for artists and art lovers to come”. A lot of the artists on the walls are part of his gallery, in fact over 90% of artists from his gallery are represented. It’s an impressive statistic “it’s great encouragement for the artists, we want them to do well” he says, “The whole ethos of this bar is to give people opportunities”. He’s right, a lot of the work has been commissioned especially for the venue with plans to keep the art refreshed and the collection is only likely to grow.

Even two days prior to the opening art was being created with the likes of Saki & Bitches and Yvonne Wayling creating works of art at the complete opposite ends of the creative spectrum. This is one of the unique things about the Far Rockaway, the diversity of artists represented is extraordinary. Yvonne is a fine artist who paints faces on bottles and who was commissioned to create many of them for the bar, 164 in total! “I just kept getting asked for more” says Yvonne, “everyone really liked them”. It’s been project which has taken her several months to complete and the bottles now grace the end of the bar by the window looking out onto Curtain Road.

Yvonne Wayling admires her bottles in the window "it's been a rewarding experience" she told me
Yvonne Wayling admires her bottles in the window “it’s been a rewarding experience” she told me
Some of Yvonne's bottles in close up
Some of Yvonne’s bottles in close up

Saki has been on site for the past 8 days painting an entire room with her buxom cartoonlike women. Her paintings are inspired by Japanese culture and in the room she has used the colours commonly seen in Japanese festivals as a background whilst her “bitches” all have fun in various festival type moments. Her work is mainly created with a brush, using the spray can for the background skin and hair colour of the characters she has been painting. As part of the room she’s also created a cherry blossom tree covering a pillar and the roof, again a nod to Japanese culture “I’ll be really glad to get some sleep” she says after admitting to only a couple of hours a night as she strives to get the room finished. Not that she’s complaining, “it’s such an amazing opportunity” she beams, “this room is all mine, it was an honour to be asked to paint it”.

There is no doubting the commitment to art on behalf of the Far Rockaway even to the extent that a temporary wall has been created for anyone who wants to just turn up and paint. The wall will be wheeled out at the beginning of the day and inside at the end ready for the evenings trading giving yet more opportunity for artists to exhibit their talents.

Saki and Bitches puts the finishing details onto some of her ladies
Saki and Bitches puts the finishing details onto some of her ladies
Saki has spent the past 8 days creating her room which will be used for Kareoke or as a special booth for groups
Saki has spent the past 8 days creating her room which will be used for Kareoke or as a special booth for groups

The Far Rockaway promises to be a unique place with something different to see each time. Maybe that’s the whole point! To truly see the art you’ve got to keep coming back and back. It’s a good plan too because the liklihood is that you’re not going to see everything first time round. With over a 100 artists represented and many with multiple pieces it’s going to take more than an evenings drinking or afternoon brunch to spot everything on display.

But this post would be nothing without pictures and the Far Rockaway is all about the art, so for a Gallery of some of the art on show at the Far Rockaway have a look below 🙂

The chef's at the Far Rockaway were sent to New York to learn how to make real American Sloppy Pizza
The chef’s at the Far Rockaway were sent to New York to learn how to make real American Sloppy Pizza
Art is everywhere from the stools to the walls and from the ceiling to the kitchen
Art is everywhere from the stools to the walls and from the ceiling to the kitchen
A skelton from Benjamin Murphy peers down on the bar
A skeleton from Benjamin Murphy peers down on the bar
A recent exhibition by David Bray was bought in it's entirety by the Far Rockaway Bar
A recent exhibition by David Bray was bought in it’s entirety by the Far Rockaway Bar
Bray features strongly in the venue.  He is a talented illustrative artist
Bray features strongly in the venue. He is a talented illustrative artist
Bray was allowed free reign at the entrance of the loos to do what he wanted.
Bray was allowed free reign at the entrance of the loos to do what he wanted.
Mark Powells work was acquired by the Far Rockaway at the same time as Bray's
Mark Powells work was acquired by the Far Rockaway at the same time as Bray’s
Ray Richardson drew this English Bull Terrier.  He is one of the leading figurative artists in the UK
Ray Richardson drew this English Bull Terrier. He is one of the leading figurative artists in the UK
Mighty Mo and Guy Denning.  Two incredibly different artists next to each other, both leading in their own field, which shows the diversity of the art on show
Mighty Mo and Guy Denning. Two incredibly different artists next to each other, both leading in their own field, which shows the diversity of the art on show
A tribute to Rockaway's Playland destroyed during Hurricane Sandy.  The piece is a collaboration between David Bray, Ben Oakley and the Neon artist Andy Doig
A tribute to Rockaway’s Playland destroyed during Hurricane Sandy. The piece is a collaboration between David Bray, Ben Oakley and the Neon artist Andy Doig
Plan Blue uses dyed denim to create her art
Plan Blue uses dyed denim to create her art
Word to Mother produced his work on a fake brick wall especially created
Word to Mother produced his work on a fake brick wall especially created
Fret is a 14 year old revelation.  Already established at the Ben Oakley Gallery he has a number of pieces at the Far Rockaway
Fret is a 14 year old revelation. Already established at the Ben Oakley Gallery he has a number of pieces at the Far Rockaway
Fret with work from Word to Mother in the background
Fret with work from Word to Mother in the background
Hunto painted this pillar in the mens loos with the roof decorated in vinyl and the walls in pictures it's an eclectic environment.
Hunto painted this pillar in the mens loos with the roof decorated in vinyl and the walls in pictures it’s an eclectic environment.
Rugman
Rugman
SP Zero 76 painted this cubicle door
SP Zero 76 painted this cubicle door
Squirl did the inside
Squirl did the inside
Otto Schade from chile is a regular on the Shoreditch streets and he has two pieces in the bar
Otto Schade from chile is a regular on the Shoreditch streets and he has two pieces in the bar
The other Schade piece is in the kitchen
The other Schade piece is in the kitchen
MAD by Wreckage
MAD by Wreckage
Rodrigo Branco from Brazil
Rodrigo Branco from Brazil
Shoreditch local 616
Shoreditch local 616
Louise Pomeroy took over a whole wall
Louise Pomeroy took over a whole wall
Louise Pomeroy's work in close up
Louise Pomeroy’s work in close up
American artist Above was specially commissioned to create this piece
American artist Above was specially commissioned to create this piece
A pillar by Millo with Yvonne Waylings bottles in the background
A pillar by Millo with Yvonne Waylings bottles in the background
The bar even boasts a Dan Kitchener pillar
The bar even boasts a Dan Kitchener pillar
Next to Dan's pillar be careful not to miss the holographic two fingered salute
Next to Dan’s pillar be careful not to miss the holographic two fingered salute
Giles Walker creates robotic sculpture.  For the Far Rockaway he's built two security cameras which looks like vultures
Giles Walker creates robotic sculpture. For the Far Rockaway he’s built two security cameras which looks like vultures
Barry Bish paints in oil straight out of the tube
Barry Bish paints in oil straight out of the tube
Brazilian artist Cranio has painted onto the front doors
Brazilian artist Cranio has painted onto the front doors
Lewis Bannister gives a whole new life to one dollar bills
Lewis Bannister gives a whole new life to one dollar bills
The ceiling's are full of skateboards from the likes of 'Alien Workshop' and 'Consolidated'
The ceiling’s are full of skateboards from the likes of ‘Alien Workshop’ and ‘Consolidated’
It's not only the ceilings which are covered, the bar is too
It’s not only the ceilings which are covered, the bar is too
HIN is a popular artist around Shoreditch poking fun out of the more notorious world leaders
HIN is a popular artist around Shoreditch poking fun out of the more notorious world leaders
Tokyo has created some super totems
Tokyo has created some super totems
Another Totem by Tokyo
Another Totem by Tokyo
Parlee with his 'Team America' tribute
Parlee with his ‘Team America’ tribute
Ben Naz has produced these just outside the venue
Ben Naz has produced these just outside the venue
SNUB is on the external wall
SNUB is on the external wall
A crack in the ceiling by CEPT
A crack in the ceiling by CEPT
A patriotic piece from Ben Oakley who likes to use recycled materials in his art
A patriotic piece from Ben Oakley who likes to use recycled materials in his art
Ben Oakley from the Ben Oakley Gallery has played a significant role in the curation of the art
Ben Oakley from the Ben Oakley Gallery has played a significant role in the curation of the art

Ben Oakley, Yvonne Wayling and Saki & Bitches were interviewed at the Far Rockaway Bar on Tuesday 8th October two days prior to venue opening it’s doors to the public for the first time. The name is inspired by the New York resort of the same name which was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. It promises to sell real New York cuisine, the best cocktails and a savvy selection of DJ’s

For a few more Inspiring City posts featuring Saki & Bitches try:

Saki & Bitches Street Art in London
The Orchid and White Foxes, Japanese Inspired Art Show in London

13 Comments

  1. Such a cool venue, went to the opening last night and had a good look around. Will definitely go back in daylight and take some photos. Great write up and interviews IC.

  2. Impressed indeed!!… The beer, the food, the staff and so much artyfarty stuffffff in every nook and crannnnnnnny. Having just come from meeting John Dolan and George the dog drawing away in the Howard Griffin Gallery. The visit was yet another gem to the day after seeing “The Riot Series” by Jimmy C at the Pure Evil Gallery midday. Maybe I’m getting toooo old as the music was a touch loud for me trying to relax in The Far Rockaway Bar, but that said would call again rain or shine if I can find my way in!

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