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Spitalfields Antiques Market 24

June 30, 2011
by the gentle author

This is the alluring Marisa Lopez, who apologised to me for her appearance on account of having very little sleep – because she had just returned from France seeking new finds – but I think, in the light of this glamorous photograph, we can agree than no apology is necessary. “I only sell things I like, so if no-one wants to buy it at least I can wear it,” Marisa confided to me with a thin smile, lowering her eyes modestly, before casting a gaze over her collection of ravishingly beautiful old dresses, all chosen for their subtle colours and rich fabrics. Then, sitting upon a basketwork chair, in the sunlight filtering through the market roof, she clasped her hands in thought. “I feel very comfortable with this way of life.” she admitted, shading her face with her hand, “I work for myself – being on the road and sourcing things is fun. It’s creative and I can use my eye, and that, I think, is an art.”

This is Steve & Paul, proud father & son, who have been stalling out together for three years. Born in the City Rd, Steve is a former East End tailor who started at fourteen, but since he retired in 1990 he has been dealing in unbreakables and other small items. “I’ve always been interested in coins, medallions and badges,” he assured me eagerly, “A lot I’ve had for years and I’m always looking out for anything unusual.” “I’m trying to learn off him,” added Paul, beaming at his father and managing to get a few words in. “I pick Paul up of a morning and he takes me round all the car boot sales.” continued Steve with a nod of gratitude. “At the moment, I don’t have to rely on it, this pays for holidays,” he whispered discreetly, “but if I had to rely upon this, it would be hard.” Then, for emphasis, Steve looked questioningly at his son and, on cue, Paul nodded in filial reassurance.

This fine tall gentleman is Alan Robinson, a paragon of discernment, sporting a narrow eighties’ silk tie of deceptive sophistication. “I’m a jacket sort of guy,” he declared recklessly, as if no further explanation was required for his natural formality of style in the face of the hegemony of casual dressing. Delighting in the independence of the antiques trade since 1979, Alan is currently supporting himself while completing his Phd in Visual Art at Goldsmith’s College, by selling leather suitcases, antique bronzes and other classy curios. Originally from Northern Ireland, Alan confessed he only recently discovered that his parents never told friends and family back home he was an antiques dealer, when they asked how his teaching job was going.

This is Jane Heslop & Paul Parker, a devoted couple on their first day trading in the market. “My husband is off in one of the pubs I expect, enjoying the local ambiance.” revealed Jane, when I found her sitting alone at her stall. Yet she seemed happy enough.“I’ve sold a few things, covered my costs and a bit on top of that – enough for dinner tonight!” she announced in visible satisfaction. Inspired by memories of visiting her grandfather’s upholstery workshop in Dalston Lane as a child, Jane – an independent woman who grew up in Hackney Wick – gave up her job as an indie cinema manager to train as an upholsterer and furniture restorer. “I’ve brought a bit of everything this week because I don’t know what sells here yet, “ Jane admitted to me with an optimistic grin, “but I hope to come back regularly if there’s space.”

Photographs copyright © Jeremy Freedman

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