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London clay artists fight hunger with Empty Bowls

A beautiful selection of one-of-a-kind bowls at 2018's event. Photo via

Over the past decade, Empty Bowls has become a highly anticipated and beloved event in the Forest City. It is a global initiative led by potters and clay artists to raise awareness and funds for hunger in communities for more than 40 years now. London’s Empty Bowls Fundraiser is supported by the London Potters Guild (LPG) and the London Clay Art Centre (LCAC) which takes place Friday, March 6 at The Goodwill Centre on Horton Street and is gearing up for its seventh, sold out year.

The concept around this event is as beautiful in its simplicity as it is in its cause and is perhaps why it has been embraced so wholly by the community. This year, local potters have created more than 700 unique bowls and each attendee selects one of their choosing (which they get to keep) to then enjoy an array of soups from local restaurants and bread donated by a local bakery. Yes, that’s it, and it’s magical!

Regarding the concept, LCAC Board and Event Committee Chair Judy Sparkes said “people keep their bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world.” In addition “the bowls that are made are a great metaphor for community because they are touched by so many people. One person throws the bowl, another person decorates it, another person puts it in the kiln” and considering the large number of volunteers involved in running Empty Bowls, it’s a true team effort, for the community, by the community.

This event is social in nature and each year contributes funds raised to a small, local organization that addresses food insecurity. This year’s recipient is Ark Aid Street Mission, an organization in Old East Village that, according to Judy, “goes the extra mile to connect people with the services they need.” They take care of those in need right here in OEV, and all over the city through the London Food Coalition she told us.

“Neighbours helping neighbours is what makes a great community" Doug Whitelaw, Ark’s Executive Director said in LCAC’s Empty Bowls press release.

Aside from the beautiful, one-of-a-kind bowls, what other exciting offerings are in store for attendees? Delicious, delicious soups and breads. Each year, the event committee solicits donations and as Judy confirmed, not once have they been turned down by a single restaurant, confirming the thorough embrace and excitement for this event.

“Local restaurants pull out all the stops” Judy said, “it really is amazing to see what people do.”

This year’s restaurant roster is star studded and features favourites from OEV and all over London. The full list includes: Momo’s, Artisan Bakery, Growing Chef’s,The Coop, Archie's Fish and Chips, Powerhouse Brewery, The Root Cellar, Blackfriar’s Bistro, Tiger Jacks, Edgar & Joe’s, The Church Key, Willie’s Cafe, and rolls donated from Lynn’s Bakery. On top of this, charitable recipient Ark Aid will be offering their signature daily soup and this all goes down in a space fully donated by Goodwill. If there’s a singular way to define “community,” Empty Bowls has it down pat.

Although the event is already sold out, we suggest marking your calendars for February next year because, without fail, tickets go fast! Additionally, if you’d still like to contribute to food insecurity relief efforts, and particularly those of Ark Aid, you can make a donation through their website right here.

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