There are few places left in the world like ours, let alone ones that are shops.
A truly community-orientated concept store that supports independent makers and artists, where no profit is made, which exists to serve a different purpose. We love our shop and people come from all of the world to see us as they have since 1963. My father’s shop before me was full of stained glass and architectural antiques and his enormous presence. He laid The Pugin tiles upon the floor, and ran the John Hardman Studio. I still have original drawings from the studio in the shop. Someone wrote to me last week saying it’s the last bastion of authentic bohemia in Notting Hill. I mean: Jimi Hendrix played guitar to me as a child. That’s not boasting ! It’s actually a pretty cool story. The world was pretty cool in the 60’s in Notting Hill. It’s still got a magical force. I don’t know of another shop with such a story, that is so full of stories ...that gives free open studio space to artists, or where children drag their parents through the door asking to Buy Everything despite there not being a toy in sight. One Christmas morning there was knocking at the door. A local family. The son had refused all his Christmas presents ..a computer etc saying “I Just Wanted A Crystal From The Lady’s shop.” We even spend Christmas in the back of the shop, recently with the wonderful artist I work with, her father,our 21st century family and later opening the doors to some people who just had no food. The shop is not a normal shop. I want to continue to bring you beauty and conversation. I am not alone in the struggle that has hit us all. There are many independent shops all over the world in the same position as me.
This is a call, from the heart, to save us from extinction. Over the 15 years that we have been here we have sponsored artists, helped many people recover from difficult circumstances by offering them work where others would not, given of time and money to people suffering within our community and the broader community, and forged some great careers.
I do not like asking for help, it horrifies me. I like to give. Not ask for money without giving , yet I find myself with no other option.
We are unable to pay the rent and bills. An environmental art project we were going to hold as part of the delayed London Craft Week is threatened. We were going to hold an exhibition and open studio with Elizabeth Rose Langford, Rachel Ashton and other makers on the subject of Posidonia meadows to help raise urgent awareness of this vital environmental issue. Because we are closed, like many.
The situation is immediate.
We have been shown little mercy during this difficult time. Like many others. There’s nothing unusual in that in itself . The shop is our home and we live there like the ancient merchants. This is a shock to many people as they can see clearly that I do high end projects and work for high profile establishments. The thing is I have given everything away, which is naive in this increasingly tough world. I admit openly that I had a dream to just keep something beautiful alive within the community I live and the world in general . The whole world came down Portobello Road . There’s nowhere like it in the world.
Whatever happens, I am grateful to everyone that has made 99 Portobello Road such a special place in mine and others hearts.
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