Manchester is renowned for its thriving independent businesses. They make the city what it is. Just look at the Northern Quarter – bustling with independent sellers, coffee merchants and tasty grub, and not a chain in sight.
But there are plenty of independent businesses out in the suburbs that are well worth a visit.
Over in cosmopolitan West Didsbury, there’s a community art space and gallery that’s a hub for creative people of all shapes, ages and sizes.
Frank Clarke opened Sett on Burton Road last year, offering physical space for local artists to display their work, as opposed to displaying solely on online platforms.
Getting its name from Frank’s love of badgers, Sett has evolved into an art cafe – a flexible, interactive art space where you can participate in classes, meet artists and arrange commissions as well as a cosy place to have a coffee and a biscuit.
The quaint little gallery’s community ethos helps less well known local artists promote their work alongside more established people like Amy Coney, who featured on BBC’s Home is Where the Art is, well known doodle artist DaveDraws, and Trafford Parsons, who is well known for brightening up buildings and shop fronts around Manchester.
Sett are always interested in displaying new pieces, so if you’re an aspiring artist, get in touch.
On the cafe side, Sett offer a whole range sweet and savoury snacks, pancakes, toasties, sandwiches, and a mighty selection of cakes including amazing cheesecakes, gluten-free brownies and the cutest biscuits, as well as deliciously brewed coffee, hot chocolate and a range of teas.
There are vegan options, too, and soon they’ll be partnering up with Taste of Honey delicatessen to offer made-to-order sandwiches and even more treats for you to munch on.
But Sett isn’t just any old art cafe. So while some may just want to stare at some pretty paintings for a while, the gang at Sett want you to get involved.
They want to encourage more and more young minds to get arty and have designed some brand new after-school classes for kids to get stuck into.
Starting in January, the gallery will be running daily guided classes to help develop skills, artistic activities for children, evening classes for adults to develop their skills and even wellness sessions for them to express themselves through art.
All this and weekend drop-ins with established artists creating live art right in front of you.
If that doesn’t get your creative juices flowing, we don’t know what will.
And a creative mind needs to be a peaceful one, so they will be hosting extra wellness sessions, including gong therapy (a type of sound therapy that eases stress and emotional blockage), yoga and tai chi (a traditional Chinese form of martial art).
Determined to make this a community hub for everyone, Sett are planning regular gaming and cinema nights where people can mingle and share their love for different art forms, including film and video games.
Sett has just received a brand new revamp to make the space even better than before.
“The redevelopment has further opened up the shop front into a more versatile, communal art and refreshment space,” says Frank, “and through the back room we have transformed our backyard into a a semi-enclosed, sheltered ‘secret garden’ which is an excellent afternoon sun trap and also a space where we can run our graffiti and resin art classes safely.”
The space is available for hire for arts and crafts courses as well as children’s birthday parties and evening soirées for the adults, so any interested artists and artisans are encouraged to get in touch.
Gift cards for classes are now on sale in time for Christmas so you can access the range of differing classes as they come online.
And there is just SO much more planned. Vintage clothing rails, vinyl record sales and even an art supply selection coming soon. Head over to their instagram (@sett174) or facebook pages to keep posted with everything new coming up over the next few months.
Sett is open 8.30-6pm every weekday, 10-6pm on Saturdays and 11-5pm on Sundays.
174 Burton Rd, Manchester M20 1LH