Spitalfields Antiques Market 4
This elegant lady is Ali Wollen who gave up teaching twenty-one years ago when she went “a little loopy” and bought a place in a remote corner of Brittany where she is a peasant farmer for part of each year. As a consequence, everything on Ali’s colourful stall is French, and trading gives her the perfect excuse to hop across the channel and mow the grass and prune her trees, every time she requires more stock. Ali specialises in religious artifacts, lighting, hooks, kitchenware, ceramics and taxidermy including the rare albino cobra you see in the picture. “I do appreciate the social life of the market because it can be a bit solitary in France, where the nearest village is over a mile way.” revealed Ali with a shy grin.
This is Jo and Richard Waterhouse, proud father and daughter. It is Jo’s stall but, “He’s my encourager,” she explained, turning round to show the patch on her sweater than her father darned expertly for her. Jo began trading a few years ago in Totnes, where she supported herself through Dartington Hall by a stall in the Butterwalk Market. I was particularly attracted by Jo’s stock of unused vintage bicycle bells at just £3 each. Father and daughter had driven up for the day from Arlesey in Bedfordshire, “well known for its cement works, mental hospital and artificial limb factory”, apparently.
This is the adorable Beverley Barnett, a former jewellery designer who has diversified into collectables to get into the markets where she wanted to be and is now seen at Covent Garden, Portobello and Spitalfields, specialising in mid-twentieth century glass and ceramics. “I have been knocked back since my brother died but I have got things moving again.” Beverley confessed, opening her heart to me and sharing her enthusiasm, “I love the market, it’s tough and challenging but fun, and the best buzz of the day is when you are packing up and suddenly get a good sale at the end of the afternoon.” Be advised, if anyone is seeking a Scandanavian glass bowl for fruit salad this Summer, Beverley has several nice ones to choose from.
This is Catherine Martin, a passionate traveller, artist, and collector who is selling some of the extraordinary charismatic spoils of her exotic journeys, including beaded work from Cameroon, beaded skulls by the Huichol people and nineteen fifties wrestlers’ head moneyboxes from Mexico, German flour sacks, American money bags and false teeth from Morocco. This is only Catherine’s second week in Spitalfields Market but already her stall is drawing a lot of attention.“Anatomy is increasingly popular as people are becoming more interested in the mechanics of the body,” explained Catherine, with a lighthearted smile, raising an eyebrow and gesturing towards the famous collection of false teeth.
Photographs copyright © Jeremy Freedman