CURRENTLY run by a friendly bunch of twenty-somethings with a passion for beer, pizza and music, Oxford’s city centre staple White Rabbit has been an independent free house since 1830.

As such, it’s always packed with an eclectic rabble of locals, students, academics and theatregoers – with this particular Tuesday eve no exception.

So, I’m glad I arrived early to bag a seat alongside the keen regulars and thus giving me the perfect excuse (as if one were needed) to scoff one of their award-winning artisan pizzas to line my stomach before the night’s activities.

Quattro Stagioni is my all-time favourite with lashings of fiery chilli oil and all washed down with a couple of local craft ales from Botley’s Tap Social making me far from a starving artist.

Today’s creative folk are always seeking out quirkier alternatives to a standard night down the local, and with the evenings still dark and cold, the Rabbit invites us to cosy up and get tipsy and arty all at the same time.

My days of debauched drinking on a school night are well behind me and my artistic skills are dreadful at best, but nonetheless I had to get into the spirit of the night and allow the dizzying effects of drink to get my creative juices flowing.

So, clutching a brush in my left hand while my right is wrapped around a glass, I got stuck into this organised chaos of crayon by candlelight.

Having previously worked as a civil engineer, IT manager for Thames Valley Police and a theatre director, Simon Mandarino now finds himself studying Fine Art as a mature student at Oxford Brookes University. He is also current artist in residence at the Rabbit, spending many nights sketching over a cheeky half and now popping-up once a month with his popular evening event.

Having struggled to find studio space in our city, Simon’s solution was simply to spend his studio rent at a pub, bar or club…and create his work there – with space, light and an endless supply of willing (clothed) models.

Drunken Drawing is about relaxing and playing with creating images, whatever they are. Here is a way of reconnecting with making art for art’s sake.

We all once drew pictures and enjoyed it, but the trap of technical excellence, academic or self criticism may have closed doors to this simplest of pleasures.

Not here, where mono printing, blowpipe painting or good ol’ face painting is a particular favourite for the well-oiled.

We were supposed to be creating greetings cards for our friends, family and loved ones, but I’ll admit our imaginations inevitably ran wild as the night progressed.

The resulting works had what can only be described as a free-flowing innocence and strange beauty.

Many will no doubt end up on fridges across the city, but some will be chosen for the hostelry’s permanent collection and adorn its walls indefinitely.

I’m told some have even been stolen – which is surely the ultimate compliment?

* Drunken Drawing takes place on the first Tuesday of every month from 8.30pm. Go to