20 July 2021

Venture Arts artist Louise Hewitt is passionate about visiting Manchester’s museums and galleries, gaining inspiration for her own art and poetry. 

  This is the second of her bi-monthly blogs, in which, acting as Venture Arts Cultural Correspondent, she reviews an exhibition she has attended, giving an insight in to how it made her think and feel. You can read her first blog here. To find out more about Louise’s artistic practise read here. Over to Louise…    The lid of a very battered metal tea pot   "I chose to visit and review the 'Trading Station: How hot drinks shape our lives' exhibition due to the fact I am currently designing and making a tea set for my clay art projects with Venture Arts. I went to see this exhibition on Friday 18th June 2021.   Manchester Art Gallery is located between Chinatown, Central Library and Piccadilly Gardens. The Gallery is currently open five days a week (Wednesday - Sunday) and has a cafe. There is also great disabled access to the building and within the building such as lifts inside and ramps outside.   The exhibition explores the changing social use of tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Hot drinks used to be just expensive luxuries and the exhibition shows us how they evolved to be part of most people's daily lives. It also traces the history of how these drinks arrived in the United kingdom. Louise Hewitt stood in front of a glass case in the Trading Station exhibition Seeing the different exhibits and their colours and shapes has inspired my own artwork. The area that intrigued me the most was the history of chocolate due to that being one of my favourite treats! It was also interesting to see how things had changed through the centuries.   Chocolate comes from cocoa beans, which are native to Central and South America. The Maya Indians in the Yucatan Peninsula and the Aztecs of Mexico discovered cocoa trees about 600 AD. Cocoa beans were used as an ingredient for special chocolate drinks as a part of their religious ceremonies and festivals.   I learnt that cocoa was then introduced to Spain in 1528 and reached England in the 1650s, where London’s expensive Chocolate houses became places to meet for fashionable London society.   I would thoroughly recommend you go and visit this exhibition, especially if you're interested in learning about your favourite beverages. I personally have two favourites and they are tea and hot chocolate. Access to the gallery for everyone is very good. The only downside is that although the cafe is nice it is very expensive to eat or drink in if you are on a certain budget.   Entry to the exhibition is free and it's on until 31st December 2021. Go and enjoy!"
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