Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Hidden Treasures: Brixton Village Market



It's a bit of a hassle accessing my article on Brixton Village Market on the Living South website so I decided to post the text up here so it can be seen on my site too.... 

Source: livingsouth.greatbritishlife.co.uk

Hidden Treasures


By Darren Ingram 
April 2011 


The last few years have been a roller-coaster ride for Brixton Village. The thriving 1930s arcade is defiantly bucking the trend of London’s declining markets - but it could have been a very different story.

In 2009 the near-empty market faced demolition, which campaigners successfully battled against. Then along came Space Makers Agency with its vision to better use the empty spaces in our towns and cities. Working with the market owners they offered free short-leases, encouraging local artists, foodies and entrepreneurs to set up shop.

Fast-forward a little over a year and many of those traders are still here, lining the now Grade II listed avenues with an exciting array of new shops, caf├ęs and restaurants. The market, full for the first time in years, now offers Sunday shopping and is awash with music and performance, when it opens until 10pm Thursday to Saturday.

Upping the style stakes is newest arrival Saloon, where Janine Buntman, Kamilla Thorsen and Eva Sykes have created a wonderful women’s retreat. Find striking print dresses from label ‘Anami and Janine’, which attract a celebrity following. “Holly Willoughby and Fearne Cotton have worn them”, says designer Janine, who describes her creations as, “quirky and feminine, for a woman who knows her style.”

Kamilla’s hand-made jewellery uses vintage gold and silver and delicate antique French beads. Engraved Plexiglas bangles feature her signature butterfly detailing. Meanwhile Eva brings some old school glamour with her selection of vintage furs, designer finds from Biba and Vivienne Westwood and her re-worked vintage-for-modern pieces.

Continuing the vintage theme is Margot Waggoner, who opened her boutique, Leftovers, after hearing about the Space Makers project. She sells unique lace collars, corsets and a variety of clothes and accessories from France, dating from the 1850s to the 1950s.

Margot sources everything herself, travelling regularly to Paris and the South of France, buying from vintage markets and antiques shops. “It’s the best part of what I do, I get to hear the interesting stories behind the items and I write them on the tags, so people can see them”, she says.

Another Space Makers success is Georgina Jarrett, owner of old-fashioned sweet shop Sweet Tooth where brightly coloured jars of nostalgia-inducing confectionary line the walls. Sweet Tooth has all the traditional favourites, such as Bon Bon’s, Rhubarb and Custard’s and locally produced fudge. Lesser-known treats, like Nigerian Hot Ginger Sweets and Island Drops from Jamaica are a nod to the area’s rich diversity.

Georgina also stocks Martha Mitchell sweet-themed ceramics and prints. “Oh and during the school holiday’s kids can come in to make book-marks and badges from old sweet wrappers, at our arts and crafts workshops”, she says.

When Binki Taylor and Tabitha Rout wanted to create something unique with their store, Circus, they turned to Clapham designers, Studio DB. Now, delicate antique ceramics and coloured glassware balance on shelves made entirely from cardboard. In fact, much of the shop is made from the material.

Men can pick up a copy of Manzine and for women there is hand-made jewellery by Sarah Hodgson. There is something for everyone with books by Herne Hill poet and performer John Bentley and intricate drawings by local artist Julia McKenzie. “We really try hard to support local artists”, says Tabitha, a sentiment echoed by many of the traders.

Even coffee gets the artistic treatment. Every latte or cappuccino sold at Federation Coffee is adorned with latte-art, featuring trendy tulip and Rosetta designs. George Wallace and Nick Coates gave up careers in the city to follow their dream of opening a coffee shop and their passion shows in their attention to detail.

Federation is one of the few London coffee shops to roast their own beans, which are seasonal and come from El Salvador, Ethiopia and Brazil. Their passion extends to homemade cakes, biscuits and savoury snacks, including pumpkin and feta muffin loaf.

Proving that old and new businesses can get along together, Etta Burrell buys much of the fish and other ingredients from within the market. Her restaurant, Etta’s Seafood Kitchen, offers a regularly changing menu featuring mussels, lobster, crab fritters, fish curries and her signature seafood linguini.

After being featured in the Sunday Telegraph, people come from far and wide to sample Etta’s food, particularly her energising sorrel and ginger drink. “They travel from all over London, bringing copies of the article for me to sign”, she says beaming proudly.

If you take a liking to sorrel, you can also find it as a dipping sauce, nestled on the shelves amongst the homemade mustards, jams and pickles at Brixton Cornercopia. Part delicatessen, corner-store and restaurant; Ian Riley and his partner Anne Fairbrother have created a place to indulge their passion for local and seasonal produce. Dishes have included nettles picked from their garden, wild garlic from Sydenham and pork sourced from the butcher in the market.

Ian was one of the pioneers; arriving when the market was still desolate and says: “It’s changed a lot. The progress with the market has been driven by the traders, we’ve just had one of the coldest winter’s ever but it’s going to be great in the summer.” 

Brixton Village Market, Atlantic Road SW9 8PS
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