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Spitalfields Antiques Market 1

February 25, 2010
by the gentle author

Today we commence an occasional series introducing the traders in the weekly Spitalfields antiques, vintage and collectors’ market, held every Thursday. This is quickly becoming London’s pre-eminent antiques market and I love the way the traders carefully lay out the items on display upon their stalls, providing an endless source of fascination for browsers. To me, every one is a work of art and for a long while I have been eager to record them all, so I am delighted to collaborate with photographer Jeremy Freedman (who is himself a trader in the market) to bring you these first portraits that initiate our project.

This is Dale Stephens who has been trading in the Spitalfields Market for a year. “It feeds my own collecting habit”, Dale confessed to me cheerfully, explaining that he is a trained cabinet maker and furniture designer, which makes him especially appreciative of the skill and technique that went into the manufacture of even the most run-of- the-mill artifacts in the past. As Dale was speaking, my eye fell upon some lovely old handmade bone rulers and I knew exactly what he meant.

This is Karen Beardsmore who has been trading in the Spitalfields Market for six months. “I used to manage a pub”, Karen explained recklessly,“but I gave it up to do the things I liked. I’m doing pottery courses and having a lazy year!” Karen can regularly be seen mudlarking at Wapping and sells exquisite old matchboxes full of seventeenth century china fragments from the Thames for just £4. In fact, everything on Karen’s stall fits into one suitcase which she drags along each week. It must be quite a large one.

This is Brian Oxley who has been collecting for forty-five years and is currently selling off some of his precious things to fund an extension to his home on Romney Marsh, creating an additional room with a view over the marsh for his wife who has MSA. An experienced painter and teacher of art, Brian restores and reframes old paintings, and is also selling a wonderful collection of fine nineteenth century artist’s paint boxes. You can learn more about Brian’s own paintings here and here. What a gentleman.

This is Jess Collins who trades in vintage clothing and accessories with her boyfriend Oliver Stannion. Surrounded by a mind-boggling array, dating from the nineteenth century up until the nineteen eighties, Jess rolled her eyes around in amusement as she revealed where it all came from, “We started collecting in Manchester at car boot sales but we got so much stuff we began selling it. Then Ollie moved to London and I followed. We’ve only been doing it for year but we’ve already got enough stock to last a lifetime!”

2 Responses leave one →
  1. February 25, 2010

    Dee-lightful! If it weren’t for the cold, I’d move over and take up this life. This “trade” has a reputation for louche-ness but your vendors strike me as charming folks! Great idea for a post. Look forward to the next installment.

  2. Violeta Morato permalink
    March 3, 2010

    I have been in Spitalfield once, but we did not go to this wonderful places, let my daughter know I am delightful with this post. My next time in London will be my first stop.

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