From BYOB drawing classes to ‘coffee school’ and handmade gifts galore…The Bowery has it all
It’s 2019. The modern age. The era of the hipster, the millennial, the digital realm. The heyday of independent coffee shops, of cavernous creative spaces, of different ways to quaff your caffeine fix as you connect to Wi-Fi against a backdrop of exposed brick, filament bulbs and ubiquitous foliage.
In this world of homogeneous attempts at authenticity, the discovery of genuinely lovely places should be celebrated. And if you’re after a slice of that celebratory pie close to home, look no further than Leeds’ answer to latte art and real art alike - The Bowery.
Nestled at the far end of Headingley, with friendly neighbours Jino’s Thai and Salvo’s close by, The Bowery opened its doors back in 2008 with a mission to bring creativity back to the student-dominated suburb.
Founders, Sandra and Ged Togher, nicknamed their new setup ‘the home of creativity’. It’s a name that resonates all the more strongly today, thanks to The Bowery’s packed programme of workshops, courses, and exhibitions, all set to the low rumble of café chatter and the faint aroma of fresh coffee. The plan seems to have come together.
This is the place to relax, create and be inspired. The place to while away a morning sipping tea, surfing the free Wi-Fi, or browsing a selection of handmade crafts. The place to try your hand at a new or long-practised creative skill amidst a display of some of the best emerging artwork around.
On the last Friday of the month, The Bowery hosts popular Drink and Draw evenings - the chance to try your hand at an artistic technique in a guided workshop, with the freedom to bring your own booze (or otherwise) along to soften the evening.
These sessions have covered everything from surrealism to cubism, with upcoming evenings set to tackle Frida Kahlo style self-portraits and collaged mono printing. The ingenuity of this concept extends to Drink and Do sessions, where attendees get hands on with skills such as embroidery, ‘dirty pour painting’ and tie dye coming up soon.
Another popular regular is Coffee School, a beginners’ barista workshop teaching the basics of - you guessed it - coffee making. Play with Clay and Jewellery Making sessions are often running at weekends, giving everyone from beginners to practised hands the chance to unwind and get creative in the cosy upstairs gallery space.
If you’re after a longer-term solution to finally doing something about that creative itch, one of The Bowery’s short courses might just be the answer. The space runs six-week courses on a rolling basis, with current contenders offering up opportunities in creative writing, sketching and painting, sewing, life drawing and garden design.
The Bowery’s fun yet chilled out atmosphere also makes it the perfect place to bring the kids, and with a range of Young Creatives workshops - including a weekly Sunday art club - there’s something to enrich the whole family. And maybe even give grown-up creative brains the chance to relax with a coffee and a slice of homemade cake.
The gallery space hosts a diverse range of talent, with everchanging exhibitions showcasing the work of emerging artists - and often selling it in the shop too. Climb the narrow staircase at the back of the café to browse a selection of often-thought-provoking, contemporary work; the perfect place to get inspired and start to feel like creativity is well within your reach.
Independent coffee joint by name, so much more by nature, The Bowery is a breath of fresh air for Headingley and Leeds alike. Head down to get your hands dirty and your brain ticking over. Bring your friends, bring your best creative mind set and give yourself some much-needed space to breathe.
The Bowery is open 8.30am-6.30pm Mon-Thurs, 8.30am-6pm Fri-Sat and 10am-5pm Sun