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NEW | The Wonder Inn | Shudehill

L'Oréal Blackett talks to Gibraltan-born, MCR-based songwriter Kirsty Almeida about a new 'creative wellness centre'

Written by . Published on March 16th 2015.


NEW | The Wonder Inn | Shudehill
 

"IT IS a big undertaking but we have a vision. We fell in love with the building and, I don't know if you’re interested in fate and such things, but we felt it was meant to happen," said Kirsty Almeida, one of the creative brains behind Wonder Inn and an extensive renovation of the 1810 Grade II-listed Shudehill building.

"The Wonder Inn Café will be an organic café and we'll be working with chefs across the country to put on events and an open kitchen"

Almeida's name may be one you already know here in Manchester.

She's a Gilbraltar-born singer and songwriter, one of those broadsheet and BBC acclaimed folk music-types, well-travelled (she's in Florida when we speak), partial to a bit of on-stage theatrics, and has performed in various art installations across the world. Manchester is her home, though, and it's here she found a home for another creative business, The Wonder Inn.

Kirsty AlmeidaKirsty Almeida

The Wonder Inn is gradually developing into a new 7000 sq ft events, café and creative wellness centre. It is, Almeida admits, a bold project.

"The building also used to be retail and warehouse space, although it has been derelict for a number of years. Renovation will happen in stages, as it’s a listed building and very old there will be constant improvements. Many listed buildings in Manchester have been knocked down, so the plan is to preserve the heritage and history," she explained.

Dsc_1218

The Wonder Inn

The renovation is a joint project between Almeida and business partner, Mari-Ruth Oda, a talented Japanese ceramacist and designer who, like Almeida, made Manchester her home after falling in love with the city fifteen years ago. It's an international creative partnership Manchester International Festival would be proud of.

So how did the two arrive at The Wonder Inn?

"I've hosted secret gigs with chefs for a longtime - I'd take people and bring them to odd places. Me and Mari-Ruth have worked together creating a number of different backdrops and installations. We did the refurb for Blue Pig in the Northern Quarter, we redesigned the entrance room for The Music Place in Altrincham and we also had a lot to do with Bury Light night. We thought it would be lovely to have our own venue," said Almeida.

Mari-RuthMari-Ruth working in her studio in Stockport

The Wonder Inn will run as a community interest company (not for profit) and will have seven main key 'wellness' areas: a children's area for story telling; a 'health promoting' organic café; a gallery space; a workshop space for all ages; an event space for music, inspirational talks, cinema evenings; yoga and meditation room; and a therapy room. 

"It will be a venue for art installations where people can interact with the art," she added.

There's certainly a lot of space to work with and The Wonder Inn is already out of the blocks. Street fooders Guerrilla Eats have already claimed some space, relocating its popular food festival from Ancoats to the Wonder Inn from Saturday 14 March. Hosting residencies and working with food vendors and chefs is one of pair's long term plans.

Dsc_1224Guerilla Eats 

"The Wonder Inn Café will be an organic café and we'll be working with chefs across the country to put on events and an open kitchen - Guerrilla Eats are the first in the space in this manner. We also want to encourage those with allotments to share their produce - things like that."

The Café is still a work in process but the two creative entrepreneurs are set to open a pop-up on the 1 May. There's lots of other plans and art projects still in the conceptual phases and, Almeida says, to expect live gigs from international stars.

Day-to-day, everything in The Wonder Inn will have a wellness theme.

"It's not just about wellness, but creative wellness," explained Almeida - sort of. The difference between wellness (an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life) and creative wellness seems a little blurred, and a creative wellness centre seems like a rather niche and new-age concept. If you're not partial to your vegetables organic and your tea oolong, would you be able to interact and enjoy the specialist (yet intriguing) programes soon to be announced at The Wonder Inn?

"Certainly," says Almeida. "Manchester has these amazing pockets of undulating creativity which are extremely inspiring. We really are excited about this lovely project and are giving it our heart and soul. It is very inspiring to be part of and we are learning from it and all the lovely people who are sharing their expertise to help get it off the ground."

The Wonder Inn are looking for volunteers.

See The Wonder Inn Facebook and Twitter pages for more information.

Follow @LOreal_B on Twitter

 

The Wonder InnThe Wonder Inn

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DarrenMarch 16th 2015.

I've always loved this building. Crazy it's been empty for so long when it's next to a major transport hub and minutes from a major train station.

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