Spitalfields Antiques Market 17
This is the stylish Sarah Ovans – just arrived from West London – an ex-teacher now turned dealer in antique glass. “I am trying it out to see what happens” she declared recklessly, twirling her twisted glass walking stick, liberated from the schoolroom by this new adventure that began with a stall at a charity fair in Kensington. Dressed for the part in an alice band and floral gown adorned with blue cabbage roses, “It’s a tonic meeting all these different people!” she admitted to me in a hushed whisper of excitement, as her eyes roved around the bohemian East End crowd in Spitalfields.
This is Sharon Williams, a happy ex-prisonwarder, minding the stall for her pal Dan while he is on holiday. “In the prison service I was stressed to the max – I thought, ‘This job is killing me!’ so I left to trade in Airstream trailers. I live and breathe them actually, everything else is just to make a living because my love is with the Airstreams.” she confessed, revealing that it all started with seeing one in a Marilyn Monroe movie. Today Sharon is the accredited importer of these gleaming curvy beauties of which there are now four hundred in this country, and you can get one to serve as your own personal getaway vehicle from her website www.maybricks.co.uk.
This is the celebrated George Cossington, an ex-steeplejack, now putting his feet up at ground level after thirty years above the roof tops.“I fell once but a corrugated iron roof saved my fall, that was in Beckton Gas Works,” he recalled in relief, grateful to be here today. “I’ve always loved old tools, but I thought,’If you sell ‘em, who’s going to buy ‘em?’ So I bought a polishing machine and I bring them back to life.” George told me, accounting for his gleaming stock of antique iron and brassware – including an especially covetable military issue pruning saw dated 1945, still in perfect condition. Just one of the myriad delights of utilitarian metalwork to be discovered at George’s stall.
This is the graceful Juliette, an ex-socialworker from the South Coast, who deals in luggage, handbags and vanity cases – ask and she will show you the “handbag” from Worthing. We shared an idle half hour, studying the labels, peeking into the cases, peering at the fine linings and speculating about the mysteries of who? and where? and when? Juliette has made it her mission to match these exquisite handmade pieces with new owners to cherish and wax them. “I always liked handbags, I inherited my aunt’s snakeskin one,” Juliette proposed, by way of understated explanation, surrounded by all her glorious old baggage, enough to fill the left luggage office at Liverpool St Station.
Photographs copyright © Jeremy Freedman