Spitalfields Antiques Market 16
This is Hollie Reedy, a sassy young New Zealander who possesses an arresting knack with eyeliner and always dresses in black. “I have lots more stuff at home, but what you see is what I can carry in two black bags on the bus from the Kingsland Rd.” she enthused, while adopting a series of fashion plate postures with an endearing lack of self-consciousness. A restless nomadic spirit, Hollie confessed with an eager smile, “I used to have a shop in New Zealand, but I shut it to come here and brought the stock with me, and now I am ready to go back and start again in Auckland.” Catch this exotic migratory bird with the raven plumage before she flies off to another hemisphere.
This is my pal Bill, a dignified market stalwart who deals in coins, antique whistles, gramophone needle boxes, souvenir thimbles, magic lantern slides, trading tokens, small classical antiquities and prehistoric artifacts. “I sell quite a few things, but on a low margin because it’s more interesting to have a quick turnover.” he admitted to me, speaking frankly, “I’m here more for enjoyment really – quite a few friends I’ve made over the years. I was a shy person before, but it’s made me confident having a stall. I’ve become an optimistic person.” Bill travels from Walthamstow to Spitalfields each week with all his stock in a backpack and large suitcase – practical, economic and an incentive to sell as much as possible.
This is Barrie Reeve, a bold adventurer who scours Belgium and Holland, exploring the stranger margins of the trade – with eclectic finds such as the medical specimens and charts, chemistry jars, maps and artificial limbs you can see in the picture, which delight the bohemian tastes of his specialist customers here in Spitalfields. I especially liked the orrery on the top right with all the planets made of little wooden balls on wires turning round a tin disc, a primitive model of the grandest scheme of all. Surrounded by his marvellous discoveries, Barrie exudes a proprietory largesse, proud to share his appreciation with aficionados of the offbeat.
This is Richard Rags and his appealingly voluble son Cosmo Wise, both dressed head to toe in the clothing from the nineteen forties and earlier that is their shared passion. They cherish the extravagantly worn-out old togs your grandparents discarded, full of vibrant character and handmade details no modern garment can ever match. Cosmo really knows how to wear it and, with admirable enterprise, is now copying his most treasured finds in old fabric, to create exclusive pieces sold under his own label “De Rien.” “We are drowning in clothes, clothes dripping from the ceiling, even beds made of clothes.” he revealed with barely concealed delight, divulging the singular living conditions at their clothing warehouse in Hackney Wick.
photographs copyright © Jeremy Freedman