June 13, 2023

Maha’s Diary – Oxford House’s Café Antics

Maha’s Diary – Oxford House’s Café Antics



Maha, our new Heritage Participation Trainee and is keeping an illustrated heritage blog of her time at Oxford House.


Greetings Oxford House friends,


My name is Maha Shami. I am an Artist and the Heritage Participation Trainee at Oxford House. My Oxford House Diary uses reportage illustration. Reportage is a type of visual documentation where an artist’s captures a moment in time. This is where I draw from life to document what is happening around me at Oxford House. Using a visual diary allows me to express my thoughts and emotions. I write to do lists and make sure I keep track of what needs to be done at work. I have a passion for storytelling, and I want to share that with you.


Today’s post is about the Oxford House Café, the beating heart of Oxford House. Our café is a bright dynamic space with lovely views overlooking Weaver’s Field Park. It’s a space that can and is used in so many ways. Oxford House’s Café had stopped running in 2015. As part of the refurbishment OH decide to run the café itself and it opened in July 2019.


I think we are quite lucky to have the space now. How do people use the café? So first, as a café, for delicious food and drinks, and as a community café we are proud to work closely with our local suppliers. We have locals who use the café for drinks, our sofas, and a chat. We have parents who drop their children off to classes and have a couple of drinks. We have tenants using our café to have lunch and take meetings.


We use our café to host exhibitions and events. These include our current exhibition Philip Cunningham’s 1970’s East End Photography, and events like Somali Week. We turn our Café into a vibrant Jazz Club every Friday of the month. By encouraging people to come together, share and connect we believe we can use the space to tackle loneliness and isolation. We also rent this truly multi use space.


I have found it fascinating to make drawings in the café because I like how so many different types of people use the café and exist together within the space. I have personally made friends, networked, ate delicious food, and enjoyed wonderful music at the Oxford House Cafe. Such an important space, potentially my favourite in the whole building.


Drawn in the Oxford House Café when the house Jazz Band was playing, I used Polychromos coloured pencils to construct this image.


This is the inverted version. I have also increased the saturation.



I found washy tape in the cupboard in the Oxford House office, and I thought I would use it to block out and make a mixed media piece of the Oxford House Café. This piece took two hours. This version is the original.


I made this drawing in 10 minutes on Wednesday the 8th of March in the Café using Polychromos coloured pencils.


I inverted this piece in Photoshop and I love that doing this creates a completely different energy in the image.


I drew this piece in my sketchbook and then edited in the yellow and some colour blocks to mimic the colour blocks that already existed in this image from the pieces of coloured paper.