Coffee Shops and Galleries

Tanya spends half her life in coffee shops and galleries, studying for her art degree. She finds inspiration and solace in those favourite places, but what she didn't expect to find was love. However when she meets someone from her past, a romance develops between them, one that pushes both of their ideas about what love can be.

Each chapter is accompanied by a photo/drawing of an artwork/original piece that relates to the story. For me this adds depth to the narrative and gives me something interesting to research - I hope you'll also find it inspiring!

*I try to update with a new chapter every week.*

Cover artwork, photography and illustration by me, Jasmine Green ©
Artwork pictured in some photos is not mine and belongs to the artist, who I have credited where appropriate.
All characters and events are fictional, but I will be using places and businesses that exist, so apologies if there is any incorrect information or offence incurred.

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1. The Tate


 

I knew it was a bad idea taking coffee on the tube. I thought I'd seem like one of those people who breeze through life, just casually sipping from my takeout cup as I hop on and off the train. But I'd forgotten that it was rush hour, and that I'm incredibly clumsy. 

Excusing myself from the carriage, leaving drips of coffee in my wake, I headed to the escalators. I was on my way to The Tate Gallery, which was one of my favourite places in London, although I hadn't been in months. It was the gallery that you visited in London - like The Moma in New York - you had to see it. But once you have a few times, like in the first year of my degree, you run out of things to see as they don't change the exhibits that often. 

Today however, I just wanted to feel the atmosphere of it. There's nothing like a gallery to change my mood, to calm me down, or contrastingly make me manic with inspiration. I think it's the whiteness, the quietness, the all-consuming-ness of the space, it allows you to be in abstraction from the outside world, or from your own thoughts if you let it. 

 

 

After an hour or so of walking around the place, loosing myself in the artwork, I sat down on one of the benches near the window and pulled out my sketchbook. My mind was, not surprisingly, teeming with ideas that I wanted to get down on paper. Just as I was drawing what i could remember of an interesting sculpture I had seen, something interrupted my thoughts. 

'Tanya?' A voice quite close to me rang out, and I abruptly raised my head to see who was saying my name. 

It was a man, with greying hair and a kind face - a familiar face. It was Mr Mayes, my old art teacher. 

‘Oh, hello,' I started, honestly surprised to see him here, swiftly closing my sketchbook. 

'It is you.' He said in a confirmatory tone 'I saw you from over there and thought I recognised you' He gestured to the exit of one of the exhibitions. I just laughed awkwardly in reply, taking a few seconds to take in his appearance: He had on his usual smart style that had always seemed odd for an art teacher, and a broad smile that creased the corners of his eyes. 

There was a slight pause until he spoke again. 

'So, London - you're at uni here I guess?' He seemed actually interested, not like a lot of people who enquire where you study just to turn a phrase. 

'Yes, Central St Martins' I smiled, feeling strange pride, wanting to show off the fact he'd helped me on my way into one of the top art universities. 

'Wow, that's great.' He congratulated, then looked down worriedly at his watch. 'Anyway, I really have to be going to catch a train. How about I leave you my email address and we can catch up?' He reached into his bag and drew out a notebook which he scribbled something on quickly. 'You can tell me about St Martins!' He said enthusiastically handing me the torn-out piece of paper. 

'Okay, sure' I responded, then he said goodbye and I watched the back of him walking away. 

I sat there and glanced down at his scrawl on the notepaper I clutched between my fingers and couldn't help smiling. He had always been my favourite teacher in Sixth form, and we got on well, he always had something to say about my art and believed I'd do great things with it - that was sort of inspiring. 

It was the twinkle in his eye that had stayed with me, I remembered it well from class when he used to talk about his favourite artists, or his own practice, or even admiring us-students substandard work. It was an energy, excitement, for what he did, and that was something I yearned for in my life. 

I tucked the email address in the front of my sketchbook and forgot about it for the rest of my day. 

 

~•~•~

 

'Felicity!' I exclaimed in annoyance at my housemate, who'd just knocked my sketchbook off the kitchen table. Papers flying out of it dispersed across the dirty floor as I scrambled to pick them up. 

'Oh shit' She gasped, although not stirring to help. I glanced up at her from my crouch on the floor, giving her a look of indignation. Her eyes were heavy and wincing and she looked slightly like death. 

'You went out on a Monday?' I assumed in a sly voice 'Unlike you'. I continued to gather my things off the floor, several unstuck photos and loose sheets of drawings, and underneath them I saw the scrap of paper with Mr Mayes email address on it from yesterday. I swiftly pocketed it so I'd remember it later. 

'Yeah, Fabio made me' She sighed through her hangover. I rolled my eyes, Fabio was her new friend that seemed to be slowly taking over her life. 

'Fair enough, just don't go jumping over any cliffs' I muttered, finally having stuffed all the paper back inside my book, standing up again. 

Now it was her turn to roll her eyes. 'Even when I'm not hungover I never get your jokes'. She slams a cup down on the counter and proceeded to make tea. 

I looked at her standing there in her sweatshirt and pyjama bottoms and wondered what I ever saw in her. Smirking slightly, I replied 'Hmm, that's probably why we didn't work out.' I alluded to the brief relationship between us that ended as soon as we had decided to share a house (I always thought, thank goodness we'd chosen to go with 2 other friends as well). 

She slapped me gently on the arm 'You know it wasn't that' she smiled in mock annoyance. I was glad that we could remain friends, she was great to be around even if we didn't want to be around each other all the time anymore. 

'It was because you're boring... right?' I teased, leaning against the counter next to her, head tilted pretending to remember. 'Correct me if I'm wrong'. 

She made a sarcastic laugh and then I had to very quickly exit the room before a hot tea bag could be flung in my face. 

 

~•~•~


 

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