To most Melbournians wandering the backstreets of sunny Fitzroy, stumbling across a café that’s tucked in a nook beneath a stairway wouldn’t be too much of a surprise. However, strike up a conversation with any one of the baristas inside Juddy Roller, and you’ll soon realise that this café is not just another place to grab a coffee.
Juddy Roller, as owner Shaun Hossack explains, is ‘a hub for local and international artists to meet, work and play’ whilst also offering the passing public an outdoor curated space to admire art in the urban environment. In other words, JR is part-café, part-outdoor art gallery.
The majority of Juddy Roller’s seating is outside; amongst the padded milk crates, the low make-shift tables (they too have been transformed into something interesting to look at), and a bathtub acting as a giant plant-bed, you’ll find many (large) works of art providing backgrounds to people’s conversations or simply colouring their morning coffee-runs. As a result, café-goers are provided with the opportunity to gaze and revel in an abundance of works that adorn the otherwise bare brick-walls.
Shaun says that he’s happy to talk to anybody that comes in willing to listen and this enthusiasm to celebrate art and culture in the urban environment is conveyed by the entire staff at JR. And though Shaun admits that the artist space upstairs is the more significant aspect of JR, he does not dismiss the crucial importance of serving coffee and food on a daily basis: ‘It allows complete strangers to come in and engage with people that know and love the art.’ On offer is a menu that is split in two – Herbivore and Carnivore – where the focus is on down-to-earth ingredients that go well together. And the coffee is no different: just good quality-made coffee that Melbournians expect.
JR, however, is not about making profits; the name might not mean much, or anything at all, to those grabbing their coffee but to Shaun it’s much more than a name: ‘Juddy Roller to me was a man that put honesty and kindness above all else. We strive to live like this everyday, with some success.’ He continues on to say that ‘Juddy just wanted the people in his life to be happy. We try and make the people in our lives happy too, whether they be strangers or best friends. We try to put our egos aside and accept every kind of person.
A number of the pieces currently being exhibited are by local artists such as Slicer, Makatron, Kaff-eine, and Al Mooney (sculpture), as well as Ears who hails from Sydney. International artists include; Does (Netherlands), Taylor White (USA), Lucy Lucy (France), Blo (France), Choq (France) and Dem189 (France). Many of these works have been left over from the 3rd Annual Ill-Logic Street Party that was thrown earlier in the year when hundreds of people crowded the blockaded Chapel St to party amid live art and music.
Ill-Logic, says Shaun, is a way he and his friends can give ‘something culturally significant to the city we all know and love’ and that, to them, ‘is very, very important.’
What remains the most significant aspect, though, is that it’s all free: ‘There is nothing commercial about it and there never will be.’ Ill-Logic, instead, relies on sponsorship to be able to provide all the essentials for the street party including the beer and cider, this year provided by Asahi and Somersby, and Ironlak for the numerous cans of spray paint used.
Despite the party continuing late in the studios upstairs, the Juddy Roller crew were up early to serve coffee and breakfast to those recovering but also to passers-by who remained unaware of what took place the previous night.
Melbournians are fortunate to have a space like Juddy Roller in their midst; a space that transforms their local urban environment into something more. Where a café, though offering good food and coffee, can take the back-seat to a cultural space that’s truly local.
Take a stroll away from Brunswick St, and find yourself at Juddy Roller, Cnr of Johnston St and Chapel St, Fitzroy.
Monday – Friday 8am-4pm