Wrestling Demons: a unique collaboration between foodies, artists and bartenders

This week marks Mental Heath Awareness Week. Mental wellbeing is becoming less of a hush-hush subject and opening up the conversation only reveals the extent of people’s states of mind across a range of different industries. Not to mention the added stress and anxiety the current crisis brings. Whether you’re an artist, writer, chef or bartender, we all have something in common: we’re human. And being human comes with its own set of challenges and demons.

Alex Fatho-Bland’s project Wrestling Demons on Place of the Way paired up a unique set of creators in their own right to open up the conversation about mental health and visualise the inner struggle. The result: a visually stunning concept that doesn’t only raise awareness, but also aims to raise £30,000 for Hospitality Action and the Drinks Trust.

How does it work? Seven iconic people across the hospitality industry will be sharing touching stories with seven awesome artists who interpret the icon’s ‘demons’ and create a beautiful piece of art. This artwork will be sent to seven bartenders from some of London’s top bars who will create a cocktail based on their interpretation of the art.

Time for change and a new mindset

Alex Fatho-Bland: “Towards the end of 2019 I came to a place that I wasn’t happy. In fact, that’s an understatement. I’d had a career of selling ‘things’ whilst working in advertising and marketing. Ideas that had been killed off or diluted through lack of imagination. And a real need to do something purposeful, which was met with red tape, lack of belief or commercial politics. Some reading this I believe are nodding right now.”

“After a pretty nasty injury, I was feeling even less myself. I felt like Willy Wonka in the 21st century, where selling was more than imagining, and I was confronted with prejudice for being honest about my mental health. The people around me were also living in fear of talking about their mental health for fear of losing their jobs… and I just had enough.”

“I lost my faith in businesses and in some way people in a society with a stiff upper lip, when the reality is no one is 100%. That is me being honest. And that’s hard. But I have a beard so maybe that has kept me from having such a visible stiff upper lip myself.”

“From that dark, lonely place, to often fortuitously meeting like-minded people (many who are on this project), I found what I believed in and an energy. I started ‘Place of the Way’. I wanted to stand for something and collaborate with creative people that shared a similar ethos. I realised, maybe from the years of marketing, that we live in an Instagrammable world. Where creating experiences and sparking imagination that people could relate to directly or subconsciously, could achieve good. Not only that, but I could have fun too!”

“Wrestling Demons is the beginning of something. It’s a community of people that can relate to breaking a stigma, raising mental health awareness and sharing a cross industry expression, where people find it hard to express themselves sometimes. Whether you can relate to 21 different people, a piece of art or a cocktail, there is something for everyone to ‘Feed The Conversation’ on mental health and the things that really matter to all of us. For this project, you will hear and see us express our hopes fears and dreams of a more sustainably friendly world, a better future for our children, xenophobia and even how our demons can eat us from the inside out. This project… it’s a beautiful ‘Demon’, because it comes from a place that’s real and honest.”

Cross industry collaborations

“I hope that for people reading this, it helps raise their spirits that they aren’t alone. You have more support than you know. From the people on this project, but also the amazing charities I wish I hadn’t had to of stumbled over to recognise how I felt. Also… maybe I am throwing down the gauntlet, but I believe enough is enough. Cross industry creativity needs to and can spark change for consumers and businesses for good. That’s the mission… so who wants to see what’s next?”

Wrestling Demons

The project, featuring a total of 21 foodies, artists and bartenders aims to raise money for hospitality charities through artwork and cocktails available on the participants websites. Now of course, awareness doesn’t end after Mental Health Awareness Week, so keep an eye on Alex Fatho-Bland’s Place of the Way for future collaborations and how to get involved.