Mabels cafe

Sheffield photographer steps out of the dark room into the kitchen

As part of the Sheffield Antiques Quarter’s celebration of National Antiques Week, Sheffield Unchained is spending the week visiting some of the independents in the Quarter to find out the stories behind their businesses. Here is the unexpected story behind the new Mabel’s Café at The Vault…

Sheffield photographer Jacqui Bellamy has opted for a ‘less stressful career’ and opened her own café in The Vault arts and vintage centre in Sheffield’s Antiques Quarter two months ago.

Jacqui has been a photographer and worked in film for the last twenty years, however she said she wanted a different lifestyle and due to health reasons she wanted to do something less stressful and ‘not as full on’:

“If you work in film you are working 90 hour weeks and 15 hour days so it became a bit much and you get fed up with that after so many years. I have always loved cooking and when my friends have been around for food they always like it, so I thought ‘why not try that and sell it?’”

Mabels cafe and Art@TheVault

Mabels cafe and Art@TheVault

Jacqui, now in her 40’s, worked as a boom operator and sound recordist for twelve years, working on TV shows such as Last of the Summer Wine and Emmerdale. She then worked as a freelance photographer and sound recordist for eight years.

Jacqui is still the photographer for Sheffield Doc/Fest, which she has been documenting for the last seven years. She also covers many music and film festivals such as Sheffield’s Sensoria and every year she photographs a series of photographs called Latrino Gals. Jacqui describes the project as being inspired by woman visiting the loo together or in groups at clubs.

“It’s about engaging women in spontaneous activity within a space they consider as private. They pose for me in the cubicles, a perfect format framing their vibrant personalities.

“The photos are mostly on-the-fly, using available light, I don’t retouch or use airbrushing. Usually I have no longer than 5 or 10 minutes to capture the image I want. None of the girls are professional models, and I love the mix in how these women respond. The important element of this project is that it is about portraits of ‘normal’ women out at night. Anyone can take part. I like the documentary feel and try to capture a sense of each girl who poses for me.”

Trying something different

Originally from London, Jacqui moved to Sheffield to study Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University in 1993 and she has lived in the city ever since. Jacqui said she is not new to the catering industry as she used to work in café’s before she moved to Sheffield.

Mabel's Cafe

Mabel’s Cafe

“I just wanted to try something different, media work often goes into a lull during the winter so it is nice to have a little business ticking over in the meantime, then you know you have got something to fall back on.”

The name ‘Mabel’s Café’ comes from a mix of Jacqui’s surname with that of another friend with whom she had wanted to open a café. Jacqui also said that this is something her grandma, Mary, would have done when she was a kid, so she has put her grandma’s name together with her surname.  “I also didn’t want people to get mixed up with my photography business Pixelwitch Pictures, so I wanted it to be completely different.”

Mabel’s Café offers home-cooked, wholesome, mostly vegetarian food, with home cooked soups, homemade bread and Spanish tortillas available everyday. Jacqui said that she tries to source all her ingredients locally and ensure that almost everything is home-cooked or bought from reputable bakers and suppliers. She sometimes makes sausage rolls and sources the meat from the Sheffield butcher Moss Valley Fine Meats:

“In the winter I have been doing things like Spanish stew, I do a vegetarian and a chorizo version, the other week I did a nice one with smoked pork and chorizo from the local butchers. I do a vegan Thursday sometimes, chickpea and roasted sweet potatoe curry always goes down well.”


Simon Kent's sculptures in Art@TheVault

Simon Kent’s sculptures in Art@TheVault




Jacqui has also teamed up with artist and sculptor Simon Kent, to launch Art@TheVault, an art gallery housed within The Vault, just behind Mabel’s Café. Jacqui said that the idea behind Art@TheVault is to access an audience that wouldn’t normally go to a gallery to look at art, but rather to allow them to stumble upon the gallery whilst looking for vintage items and then to sit and have a cup of tea and actually look at the art. Jacqui hopes to reach a younger generation as well, through people bringing their children with them into The Vault.





Here are photographs of some of the art currently on display in Art@TheVault:

Jacqui Bellamy's photographs of Simon Kent's sculptures at Art@TheVault

Jacqui Bellamy’s photographs of Simon Kent’s sculptures at Art@TheVault

Jacqui Bellamy's photographs of Simon Kent's sculptures at Art@TheVault

Jacqui Bellamy’s photographs of Simon Kent’s sculptures at Art@TheVault

Jacqui Bellamy's photographs of Simon Kent's sculptures at Art@TheVault

Jacqui Bellamy’s photographs of Simon Kent’s sculptures at Art@TheVault

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