ceiling of brazil


The barrel vault itself, clearly original (dates to 1927, part of the structure built as an alternative entrance to the Prince Edward Theatre, a vaudeville and later picture theatre), is a suspended ceiling, constructed of reinforced plaster. It hangs on wires from the supports of the lean-to pitch roof, which roof-line, the grand facade hides. This aids the impression on entering the building that despite its narrowness it opens up. It opens upwards – to the heavenly vault.

Visitors to Cafe Brazil often commented on the archipelagos of greenish blue and white paint left after we sanded off the loose paint and muck accumulated over the building’s long history. It ceased being an entry-way and became a fruit and vege store, cut off from the theatre, in the mid-1950s. Some plebs in jocular fashion suggested we do the, you know, the old Michael-And-Jello, unappreciative of our happiness at the ceiling’s distress. The seas of bare and white-capped plaster and the splotches of remaining paint appear more earth- than heaven-like, appropriately, since from this vantage we gaze up at the world.

The light source is the K, coming in through the louvred windows, above which, centre right, you can perhaps make out the signature plaster curlicue. Tristan used this motif on the last generation of Brazil menus. The trapdoor opening, into the skin of the barrel, a black rectangle, top right, we’d considered as a position for a snouted spotlight. Its beam would have cut across the entrance to the space and like a godfinger pointed to the coffee-machine. Never got around to it. Top and bottom, right, you can see the edges of the monitor-mounts. Something we did get around to, even to finally hooking up the monitors, evading by being green the copyright of whatever was played back.