When looking for a gift for a friend on Regent Street yesterday, I stumbled upon a little surprise. Well, two, actually. One was the madness going on around Oxford Circus (think twice before going on a Saturday in the middle of London’s Fashion Week). The other was a pop-up exhibit forming part of the London Design Festival.
Like most New Yorkers, artist Gwyneth Leech enjoys her coffee best in a white, to-go cup, because there really isn’t any time to be wasted in actually sitting down to drink your morning caffeine jolt. But unlike most New Yorkers, Gwyneth Leech saved a cup from each day of the year, writing on its bottom the time, place, the cup’s original contents, and the occasion in which it was drunk. And then she let inspiration take over, illustrating and capturing a scene, memory, color, or motif on each of these cups.
The result is a display of 365 paper cups (carefully preserved and coated) dangling in a store window on one of London’s busiest streets. It represents the accumulation of a seemingly insignificant cup over time, and what would have otherwise filled a landfill turned into an artist’s medium for daily self-expression. There was a street scene of huddled figures walking with umbrellas, a version of Picasso’s sunflowers, and a pattern that closely resembled our Milky Way. Leech is clearly influenced by her surroundings as the current cup-in-progress is stamped with London’s iconic red bus.