The Canvas is owned by Ruth Rogers, founder of positive body image charity Body Gossip, and The Canvas; two organisations built on facilitation, empowerment and self-expression leading to improved mental and emotional health and well-being.
Ruth spent her 20s seemingly working as an actress and puppeteer, but she was really building a movement; she launched Body Gossip in 2006, frustrated by how many people weren’t fulfilling their potential in life due to low self-esteem based around their appearance. She invited the general public to write their story about their body; chosen stories have been turned into sell-out live theatre shows, short YouTube films viewed thousands of times, and Body Gossip have also published a book of over 300 stories. Body Gossip is now a registered charity, with an award-winning education programme.
In 2007 and with no track record, Ruth was struggling to launch Body Gossip, so she took her white living room sofa (on the roof rack of her car) to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and placed it on the Royal Mile, inviting passers-by to write one sentence about their body on it. What started as a potential PR gimmick, soon became something far more powerful; when invited to write on an unusual canvas, people were more honest, more articulate, and far braver than they were with their own friends and families. Mothers were saying to Ruth: ‘Thank you. Now that I’ve seen what she’s written, I can talk to her about it.’ Ruth realised that she had discovered a powerful concept; an opportunity to showcase people’s thoughts, ideas, secrets and stories, and to hopefully break down barriers of division, encouraging community, belonging and ownership. It gave her the idea to launch The Canvas. In 2013, she became one of five social entrepreneurs to win start-up funding from the Beyond Business / Investec programme, and in Oct 2014 she opened The Canvas.
The Canvas exists to support and enable the launch of new ideas that improve the lives of others, and to provide a clear sense of community through belonging and ownership - just visit us and read the walls to understand how we do that!
Since opening in 2014, we've supported the launch of the world's first Museum of Happiness, supper clubs supporting refugees, doggy day-care feeding the homeless, live performances supporting mental health and workshops promoting positive activism, entrepreneurialism and community cohesion.
That's why we were named London's first Happy Cafe in 2015.
What started with a sofa is now a positive force for good in London. Come and see for yourself; we'd love to see you.