Latest Features


JAZZ CAFE Interview // June 2019

I had a quick Q&A with Ruari from people who run the great Jazz Cafe, here’s what we talked about…


Your work is fairly comprehensive of the current London scene. What’s so special about painting live music and how do you choose who you are going to paint?

Painting live music is special to me on a personal level because it marries the two undercurrents which have been running through my life, but in a general sense I think it's special because it is a spontaneous act of creativity which captures the energy and impression of a live performance. The immediacy and rawness is the essence of a live experience, and that it cannot be replicated.

For gigs which I pick they are based on personal taste basically - what/who I'm curious about, what I want to get lost in, what I love, what I support.. but I also love the gigs I get invited to paint, I've not painted anything I have disliked yet! 

What secrets do you have for prepping to paint in the dark rather than a studio?

One of the many lessons I learnt the hard way! Making sure you have some clip-on lamps (which are not so bright that they are distracting for anyone)... and making sure they are charged!! In the early days I once was shocked when the lights came on after the show, not in a good way...

Also make sure you bring enough materials with you. I've arrived at a venue short of canvases before and had to go off urban scavenging for wooden board.

You often paint right up and close to a packed dance floor. What’s the most chaotic incident that’s happened as a result?

I've got a few of these chestnuts... There was an event at Pop Brixton when it was so packed and ravey that the canvas was constantly being knocked off the easel, I'm generally a pretty calm person but after the 5th time it got knocked I unleashed the dragon. I don't generally like being barriered off but it is definitely necessary at packed gigs! 

Another time at the Total Refreshment Centre I was painting Sons of Kemet, the place was truly a relentless heaving sweatbox, my canvas was wet with moisture so the painting was streaming with drips, that's the unpredictable beauty of it all and truly representative of the atmosphere at the time!

What one painting would you save if your studio was going up in flames (touch wood)?

Good question! I find myself in constant throes on hating/liking a piece of work and whether there's any point in looking at art in that way at all but, if I had to pick it would probably be the first time I painted Steamdown and it was at the Jazz Cafe. That was a gig where the atmosphere was heightened and I felt very connected to the music, it was a moment where my output became more raw - more true. But that painting is sold and sitting in in someone else's lovely home I wouldn't have to save it anyway :)

I'm super chuffed for the band, they won some Jazz FM awards this year and deservedly so - they have a knack for creating this sense of a collective between audience and band. 

We would describe your work as abstract, energetic and vivid. What three words would you use to describe your own work or artistic style?

Thank you for the great words! I would say immediate, rhythmic and accidental.

What genre music would you paint to if you weren’t painting at ‘jazz’ concerts?

I have painted other genres of music like funk, soul, classical, Indian classical, rock... I think I would be most drawn to music genres which have a strong element of improvisation in them as I get inspired by that spontaneity, the unknown and that fleeting insight into someone's true will. If I could paint any non-strictly -jazz' gig it would be to go back in time and paint Pentangle, Prince or King Crimson.

Here are some images from Dora’s last live paint at the Jazz Cafe when the London Saxophone Festival put on a fantastic line-up of musicians. See WORK|SHOP for originals/prints and more pieces.

Dora will be live painting next at the Soweto Kinch show in 18th June - tickets are available here.



Emma Warren is the author of Make Some Space, she has written this book about the a part of the London scene I have been fortunate to been able to capture on canvas and according to the Guardian, “This celebration of a chocolate factory turned club and studio and its importance to London’s jazz scene is invigorating “. I think there is even a wee mention of me in there!

I’m a third of the way through and it is brilliant storytelling from the heart. Nourish yourself and cop one.



I shared my top seven tracks for the month…