Looking for coffee.love.respect? Welcome to Bleeding Heart based in the historic, granite-blocked School of Arts building at 166 Ann Street. The wide verandah has cafe and bar style seating, while indoors is a light and airy coffee shop with comfortable, brown leather lounge seating, retail and gallery space.
An initiative of the WISE foundation, Bleeding Heart is a "profit for purpose' organisation and espouses the values of the foundation which "aims to empower disadvantaged and marginalised individuals and strengthen communities by providing business and creative opportunities."
Art displays, gala events, exhibitions and corporate functions are hosted in the sky-lit gallery while a boardroom adjoining the coffee shop is for hire.
Managed by Nikki Hallam, the coffee shop and hip wait staff are incredibly friendly, warm and welcoming. Adding a sense of fun, they have 'themed Fridays' where they really dress the part - some of the fun themes they have worked include Disney, Bastille Day, Sailors and Glam Rock. Busily preparing platters for an upcoming twenty-first the gallery is hosting, Nikki remarked she had seen the popularity of the place grow in the year and a half that she had been there. " It's really nice to get regular and return customers," she said.
Cafe manager Nikki Hallam and Barista Jake Cantarella
On view when I visited was the thought provoking DURUBAN ll - Sign exhibition which showcases the work of Aboriginal woman Deann Grant. Belonging to the Kuku Yalanji Group of the Daintree Forest region in Far North Queensland, Ms Grant uses her 'art as text' style effectively to create simple, hard-hitting, personal commentaries on the discrimination, stereotyping and marginalisation of the Aboriginal community perpetuated by both the government and education departments. The works form part of her Masters of Visual Arts degree portfolio.
A new installation in the space is an arcade gaming machine advertising an upcoming exhibition called 'EMULATOR', billed as a classic gaming inspired event which runs from September 19th -30th.
Blocked, wall-mounted display cases serve as the shop-front of the Bleeding Heart gift store. They stock a selection of unique gifts and actively support local artists, crafters and small businesses. You can find a host of distinctive gift items, from the quirky to delicately worked silver jewellry. Fancy a gorgeous tea cosy styled as a traditional Christmas pudding or a bright, ripe-red strawberry ? Or one in the form of a chunky, beady-eyed elephant, complete with trunk? Check out Biddy Bags for crocheted and woollen products with a social conscience. There are fun, red-lipped and bejewelled 'sock' monkeys, delicate Art in Bark pictures, cards and pendants and nostalgic, reclaimed vinyl covered notebooks.
Among the wares are earrings and pendants by Lekker, handmade soaps, small press books and individualised, ready to wear and custom made ties by marcello neckwear. Also interesting are the scrabble pieces as pendants and typewriter keys re-worked as badges by Shelbyville . See Angelwing Jewellery for delicate silver pieces and I loved the one-of- a-kind, intricately worked vintage styled headwear of Maudies Millinery. The pieces are artfully decorated with feathers, velvet, ribbons and finely detailed lace; the range includes highly decorative silk and lace cuffs, embossed with satin flowers, embroidery and ribbons.