Spitalfields Antiques Market 9
This is Lisa Mackintosh & Rachel Parnoby, two artists who work together, making constructions of broken antique dolls, old photographs, stuffed animals, jewellery and skulls. Their playful nostalgic work is in big demand, especially by the Japanese, so, although their stall was depleted, Lisa & Rachel were jubilant. “We had this idea to take old photographs and put the faces onto dolls,” Rachel told me, outlining how she and Lisa use dolls to reveal the emotion behind the false facades of formal photographs, creating works of intriguing melancholy poetry. Two busy ladies, Lisa & Rachel travel all over Europe, seeking curios for their work, while also caring for the six children they have between them.
This proud silver-haired gentleman is Stuart who grew up in Exmouth Market. “My father was a market trader and I used to do Hoxton market when I was five. I’ve been here all my life and I paid cheap rent, but all of a sudden you’ve got to earn £400/500 a week to live here. I’m homeless now. I’d rather sleep in my van than pay £200 rent a week.” he confided to me, buzzing with defiant energy. “I like to come with a new pitch each week. I was brought up with markets. I’ve done other things and come back. It’s been there fifty years. I’ve got the gipsy blood in me.” declared Stuart, an aristocrat among traders, who drives around all week, discovering new things to sell in Spitalfields each Thursday.
This is Marie who deals in kitchenalia. “I used to buy it for myself but I got to point where I couldn’t keep on collecting, so I started selling it so I could keep on buying,” explained Marie, rationalising the compulsion she embraced when a back injury forced her to give up her teaching career.“Now my husband does all the carrying and I just sit here and take the money!” she admitted with a sly grin. Then, contemplating her beautiful blue enamel bread bin, Marie said, “It amuses me to look at something that’s been around sixty years and people can still use it, I hate this throwaway society where everything gets chucked out.” and she placed her hand upon the lid affectionately.
This is Stephen Ellis, of Hedgend near Winchester, who deals in china, lovingly displaying a Willow Pattern plate from 1806. “I’ve got a full Willow Pattern breakfast set from the eighteen nineties at home that I eat off every day,” he boasted with a smirk, showing me an example from the nineteen fifties and letting me draw my own comparison. “I’ve got a bit of an interest in china,” he admitted in proud understatement, as he cast his eyes upon all the stacks of dishes that he carts between Hedgend, Portobello, Covent Garden and Spitalfields for three days each week. Remarkably, Stephen is director of a centre for adults with learning difficulties on the other two days, which means he has got his plate full.
Photographs © Jeremy Freedman