One of my favourite not-so-secret secret places in Manchester's Northern Quarter is the Nexus Art Cafe on Dale Street.
It's a great place to pause, unlike most commercial coffee spots, whatever you've been doing. For example, in my desperate search for a copy of Halo Jones, it is perfectly located between Travelling Man and Forbidden Planet. Perhaps I just love it here because of the associations with those I love most in Manchester. It is unfortunate that it is no longer a night cafe, since in that capacity it was an unique and wonderful stop pit on an evening life, and I'm certain saved a few lives. However, it's opening hours now: 10 am - 7pm Monday to Friday and 11 am - 7 pm Saturday are a little more usual and probably guarantees a better income.
The current exhibition is Eating & Eaten, a show of works exploring food. Although the art works are of variable quality, they fill the cafe and they comprehensively utilise different types of display areas around the site. The relaxed cafe atmosphere and the eclecticism of the work and methods of display means that when substance is lacking it is not so apparent. If I saw most of these items in a more austere white-cube setting I would find them pretty unimpressive, but here they work far more successfully in their environment. I particularly like Marie Stephen's The Three Graces with Pasta, 2008, but then perhaps I just rather like squidgy bums and spaghetti a little too much.
John Yeadon's Vanitas are graphically attractive, playing with text, the significance of words in relation to food and consumption and images of food. Unfortunately there seems to be a lack of depth to the works, and the use textural and visual qualities in the images feels rather familiar. Although this familiarity is not overly problematic, they sit comfortably in the space and are quite beautiful to look at, I am left wanting more.
Eating & Eaten runs until the 27th of September. Nexus Cafe is always worth a visit and is probably my favourite place to hangout and snaffle wifi in the city centre, safe in the knowledge that there will always be something half interesting to look at.