Spitalfields Antiques Market 22
This is Nancy Lee Child, a weaver who came from New York in 1969 and ran a weaving shop in Walthamstow for thirty-six years until she sold it in 2009. “When I retired at sixty-eight, they said, ‘What are you going to do? You’re an a empress and your empire is your life,’” Nancy confided to me, her sharp blue eyes sparkling with intensity. “But I’d had enough. This is my empire now, it’s six feet long and two feet wide.” she said, gesturing proudly to her stall and crossing her arms in contentment, “I’m in charge, I employ me and I answer to me.” As well as being a virtuoso at the loom, Nancy collected wooden boxes for forty years until she had so many she could not get into her living room. “Now the word is sell ‘em and you ain’t buyin’ any more,” she informed me with gruff enthusiasm, “Every one I have, I like and now I’m trying to persuade the public to like ‘em too.”
This is Jo & Kelvin Page who deal in drinking and smoking collectibles. “It’s my wife’s baby,” said Kelvin, passing me over to Jo. “We’ve been collecting for a long time,” responded Jo with a diplomatic smile, casting her eyes fondly over all their fancy ashtrays and kitschy cocktail paraphernalia,“I admit I am compulsive, if I see it I have to have it.” “We like to own it for a little while and then we sell it,” continued Kelvin, in tactfully qualification. “We like the nineteen fifties,” declared Jo helpfully. “Neither of us smokes, but we do like a drink,” announced Kelvin, catching Jo’s eye as they exchanged a private smile.“But we don’t overdo it,” added Jo prudently, just in case I imagined they enjoyed a decadent lifestyle, and revealing she is a Paediatric Audiologist for the rest of the week.
This is Tim Mason who has been trading in “quirks of art” for the past twenty-five years. “I used to have a flat full of weird and interesting things, but I am selling it all now I’ve become a dad because I need to keep the wolf from the door,” he confessed to me proudly with a grin untinged by regret, adding, “I’ve still got quite a nice art collection.” Tim’s stock ranges from taxidermy through vintage copies of Playboy to anatomical charts. “It serves me well coming to Spitalfields” he explained, setting his jaw purposefully,“because even if I have a slow day selling, all the other dealers are here so I can do a lot of buying.” If you look closely you can see Kermit the Frog to the left of Tim. “I’ve always had him, he’s been hanging around for years and no-one ever buys him. He’s my mascot,” confided Tim shyly, raising one eyebrow and revealing an unexpected whimsical side.
Photographs copyright © Jeremy Freedman
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