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Art and Eat

We check in with one of the U.K. artists tapped by Wagamama to serve its customers some culture

by Aaron Kohn in Culture on 11 October 2011

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Step into a Wagamama restaurant and you expect friendly service served alongside contemporary Asian dishes. U.K. visitors to the chain will now get a taste of nine emerging English artists too. Working with Moniker Projects, the new program goes by the name Art and Eat.

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With Moniker, Wagamama started placing installations in their restaurants last month, also splashing the art on placemats and bookmarks that come with your check. The upshot is an initiative that both supports U.K. artists, while giving customers an engaging cultural moment as part of their meal.

When I sat down with one of the featured artists, British abstractionist Remi/Rough, he explained his position on the extensive history of corporate commissions like Wagamama's. When brands approach artists, "sometimes there is artistic freedom," he explains, "but other times they'll ask you to work around their logo, to which I often say no."

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For his mural in Wagamama's Royal Theatre Hall restaurant on London's Southbank, "they didn't ask to see my design," he confirmed, pointing out the company's generous creative license with the artists. "I chose colors that do not appear anywhere in Wagamama—except black—and I played with the idea of making stairs, as though they're steps into the Hayward gallery on the other side of the wall."

Pictured here are works from Mark Lykin, Malarky, Matt Sewell and Pam Glew. Other participating artists include Inkie, Patricia Ellis and Holly Thoburn.

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Moniker has a short release of about 25 prints for sale and, as in Remi/Rough's case, hand-painted pieces from each artist (£109 in the U.K., or £119 to ship elsewhere) as well. All proceeds go to the artists.

Wagamama will also give away prizes to people who include the hashtag #artandeat in their tweets during the span of the program, which runs through October 2011.

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