© Kate Goodacre, 2009

Hole In The Neighbourhood: Part 1 – The Art of Tea

© Kate Goodacre, 2009

© Kate Goodacre, 2009

Hole In The Neighbourhood is a series of irregular features from Motel contributors (and hopefully some guests) on places which possess a certain charm that’s difficult to find on in an adonyne clone-town high street. The hole can be a bar, a shop, a park or even a part of a neighbourhood rarely explored. The titular 'hole' doesn’t have to be in the writer’s home locale – it can be somewhere visited on holiday, for example. We kick off with The Art of Tea in south Manchester...

Manchester is renowned for its sprinkling of independent watering holes and hangouts which are little shining diamonds in the rough of faceless national chains (the number of which sadly seems to be on the increase). The Art of Tea – which began its life as a cafe in 2007 – is a fairly recent addition to that proud lineage.

Located on Barlow Moor Road, it’s far enough away from the Pitchers and Lettuces of this world and counts estate agents and newsagents amongst its unlikely neighbours. Recently, the venue took its first steps into evening opening and serves as a bar that’s perfect for a quiet (aside from its recent bustling art opening – heaving doesn’t do it justice) drink with friends, the music isn’t too intrusive and it’s tastefully decorated.

Delving into the back of the building reveals a selection of unlikely co-tenants. The Village Book Store is a veritable treasure trove (I overheard a friend excitedly leafing through a book on the history of Wales on a recent visit) and it’s the kind of place you could literally waste hours at a time just wandering round and losing yourself. If you burrow even further into the back of the building, there’s even a resident picture framer.

If relative calm, quirky art and friendly staff rank higher with you than identikit prints, bored bartenders and a music selection that looks no further than the arse end of the top 20, then The Art of Tea is your home away from home on those days when your own abode brings on a case of cabin fever.

words and pictures: Kate Goodacre

The Art of Tea is at 47 Barlow Moor Road, Didsbury, Manchester M20.

The Master of Complications exhibition runs until May 4th.