A Margate cafe, gallery and wellbeing centre is being transformed into a huge piece of art

Zen by the Sea

A new café, gallery and health and wellbeing centre in Margate is being turned into a huge piece of art,

Zen by the Sea café and massage and beauty business – formerly Lydia’s café – in the High Street has been transformed with an overhaul and amazing top to bottom paintings by town artist Dan Catt.

The venue, which is a café and coffee house on the ground floor and massage and beauty parlour in the basement, is being run by Sophie Iancu with help from family and friends.

The central theme is ‘healing, reinvigoration and escapism.

The strip lights have been removed and the interior has been given a comfy, rustic makeover with a taste of wildlife, history and cultures around the world.

Downstairs the basement has been completely remodelled to provide a nail bar and massage rooms, including a ‘couples’ room.

Sophie said: “My inspiration has always been to help people with their daily stress, the way I have found this is through body massage.

“The beautiful and special thing about Zen by the Sea is to offer a variety of ways to relax. For instance, you can pop in with friends or family for a nice lunch or a quick coffee/cup of tea and at the same time maybe pop downstairs for a quick massage or book in for a more in-depth massage session”.

Adding to the atmosphere is the plethora of paintings by Dan, who is originally from Folkestone but has lived in Thanet for around 8 years.

The scenes depict landscapes, religions and mythology and wildlife.

Dan, who has worked for the Royal Academy of Art, Harrods in London, The Chelsea Flower show and built stages and decor for festivals including Glastonbury, said: “I’m combining  styles from the impressionists and a bit of inspiration from studio Ghibli. I have worked on creating the effect that you have walked into a woodland area containing a mixture of ancient ruins, plants and wildlife and hints of different cultures around the world. .

“You come to somewhere like Zen by the Sea and this  is my theme, to take you away from every day life.

“The entire space is planned to be a piece of art and over the next few months i will be continuously adding to it, painting new things. I like to transform spaces and create something immersive.”

Zen by the Sea will also house an area for exhibiting work by Dan and other artists from the end of the month.

The café, which has seen an increase in footfall and is priding itself on using many natural ingredients and coffee sourced from Guatemala, aims to be a space to chill and recharge. It will also be the base for workshops in art, yoga, music and more.

The café, which has received its 5 star hygiene rating, has vegan and gluten-free options and is also dog friendly.

Zen by the Sea will close  from October 27-31 to finish off  painting the shop inside and out. Artwork will also be installed ready for a private viewing on Friday, November 1. The art exhibition will be continuously running and changing with new pieces every few weeks.

Find Zen by the Sea on facebook here