The alphabet of Newcastle cafes now up at Slingtown Islington
The Alphabet of Newcastle Cafes by Flo and Mil
Flo and Mil's newest exhibition is NOW hanging within Slingtown Islington – drop by to check out these unique architectural illustrations of some of Newcastle's most iconic cafes this August.
What started as a lockdown project has flourished into a series of sketches, permanently marking some of Newcastle’s homes and soon to include our much-loved cafe scene.
Brought to you by Deniliquin-born, now Newcastle resident Jess Garnham, Flo and Mil has been the home of custom illustrations since its lockdown launch in 2021.
In March this year, Jess showcased her lockdown project with her debut exhibition, Close To Home – house portraits of a street in lockdown at Good Brother Espresso.
“I’d always wanted to do this. I was drawing for family and friends whether it was their house or whatever. With my background in architecture, drawing houses was a bit of a no-brainer,” Jess shared.
A few months on from the exhibition, HUNTERhunter dropped into Jess’ Mayfield home to hear about her journey behind creating Flo and Mil, what the illustrations mean to her, and exactly what she’s working on next.
Calling Newcastle home since 2008, Jess resides in her Wes Anderson-esque-styled property with her husband Tom and their three young children.
With a passion for illustration and architecture, Jess started capturing memories through her sketches when we went into lockdown – setting a challenge of drawing one house on her street each day.
“I originally thought we would only be in lockdown for a week, then before I knew it, I had drawn a whole street. It really snowballed from there.
“It became way more than me just drawing, people actually started following along and it became something that people would look forward to seeing. We would have people on our street guessing whose house was next. It was actually really lovely.”
The name, Flo and Mil, is to honour the memory of her two great aunties, Florence and Mildred, who lived together into their 90s in a cosy cottage in Ambleside, England.
“When I think about them, I think about their tiny cottage and all of those memories that I have that are attached to them. For me, drawing is about triggering memories.”
Since Flo and Mil’s inception, Jess has opened up her books for people to request custom illustrations through Draw my House, as she describes it online. Offering a limited number of illustrations each month, the booking link opens up on the 1st of each month at 8am; with Flo and Mil illustrations now expanding to all of Newcastle and beyond.
To continue her love for capturing memories through her sketches, Jess has been busily working on her next series – The Alphabet of Newcastle Cafes – that she will be exhibiting alongside Newcastle illustrator, Jen Lamb and her urban streetscape works.
“When I was studying architecture, I was fascinated with milk bars and the role they played in communities.
“The days of the milk bar are over but they have in part been replaced by our cafe culture. Cafes are now a major part of our communities, occupying many a corner in our suburbs. They are where we meet mates, have business meetings, have first dates, take our babies to feel connected and sane.”
Documenting a series of cafes to scale, with the intention of highlighting that these places of interaction take all kinds of forms and harbour a community’s spirit, Jess aims to not only showcase the architecture, but the personality and memories behind each business.
“I love that our cafes all come in different shapes and sizes. Cafes are such a big part of our Australian culture today and people are so loyal to their local cafe.”
The cafe features will include those that hold personal memories for Jess, as well as those that excite her architecturally, as well as suggestions from friends and family. To catch a glimpse of the upcoming releases, you’ll be able to see a taster of her drawings displayed on the walls inside Slingtown Islington throughout August, with more released across Instagram.
Will your favourite local cafe spot be featured?