You wouldn’t normally associate going out for a drink, be it a cup of tea or something of a more alcoholic variety, with perusing some of the latest arty exhibitions. Well, Nottingham’s art lovers can have the best of both worlds in these striking watering holes where art and eateries mix. Esther Croom investigates the new and improved way of enjoying a drink…
Lee Rosy’s Tea Shop @ 17 Broad Street
As well as 80 types of tea, amazing cake and free wireless, Lee Rosy’s tea shop provides a treasure trove of arty farty joy. Upstairs there is a rolling exhibition of local artists, which currently features Eireann Lorsung’s ‘My England’. A collection of delicate illustrations about the US expat’s experience of living over here, the exhibition is inherently about belonging and finding a place somewhere. I immediately warmed to her because she describes England as a place where “everyone offers you tea and means it”. Beautiful illustrations of maps and birds and seasides are painted on layered glass; strings of Paddington-style labels hang across the cafe adorned with delicate drawings of deck chairs.
Heading downstairs, you’ll find an exhibition of polaroids taken by Lee Rosy’s customers.There’s something delightful about polaroids; they don’t get processed by someone else, and so they can’t be retouched, deleted, refined or de-tagged. Without wanting to sound too pretentious, they’re a raw, unaltered document of a moment in a person’s life, so much so it almost feels nosy to look at them. We’re peering through windows into these people’s experiences. My favourites are one of a pair of red silky pants (bottom included) and two hands making a heart.
Hand and Heart Gallery/Pub @ 65 Derby Road (by Canning Circus)
If you’ve not yet discovered the Hand and Heart, you should set sail immediately to explore it. In a world of ubiquitous bars trying desperately to be trendy and characterless chain-pubs, The H&H flies the flag for individuality. The back of the pub is set into a cave, and the candles and darkness strike just the right balance between cosy and spooky. In contrast, the gallery space upstairs, which features exhibitions, live music and workshops, is light and airy with big cuddly sofas and huge windows looking out over Derby Road. Currently exhibiting is Leicester-based artist Harry Walton; a roomful of large-scale paintings documents his eighty year love affair with both painting and jazz. Musicians caress their instruments, double bass players loom out of the dark, and the way the artist incorporates words and musical notes into the paintings give an idea of a multisensory experience. The darkness of most of the paintings gives a feeling of being in a jazz club, with these characters and their melodies coming out of the gloom. With this in mind, it seems odd to be in silence whilst looking at an exhibition so intrinsically about music and sound; pop in with a bit of Miles Davis on your iPod and it’ll make a lot more sense. All in all, I’m not sure the paintings live up to the venue; however, it’s still worth sa look. A great background for a coffee, or if you’re trying to get into the pants of an art history student/jazz aficionado.