I was equally delighted to find him staring down at me from behind some candles. I was however unsurprised as that is the sort of thing one would expect of Mr Patrick McGoohan. A man who has been chased by a giant balloon in Wales is capable of anything. Should you not be cognisant of Patrick McGoohan and his works (and are mystified by the balloon reference) I would urge you to make a Google search (other search engines are available … Bing for example …..). If you are McGoohan unaware then I feel you may miss something from this narrative.
It is probably misleading for me to describe this as my first venture into the Antiques Quarter as I am actually a local resident. I have ambled through it on many occasions, so perhaps this being my first adventure as a tourist on my own doorstep would be more an appropriate description. While passing I have experienced that little twinge of delight at intriguing shop windows, stylish boutique interiors and temptingly inviting coffee shops. The Antiques Quarter is exactly the sort of place the Bohemian in my soul urges to be and the area oozes Bohemian from its pores.
I pretty much work seven days a weeks and virtually all my contracts within the city centre, so I am not a frequent visitor to all these places of fascination. I was therefore elated to be invited to spend some time in the Antiques Quarter and report on my experience. It was the excuse I needed to break the walk into town and experience life on my front door step, to which I am a virtual stranger.
Which roughly is how and why I found myself to be standing in the back room of an ex green grocers shop with the aforementioned McGoohan fixed stare upon me.
The Makers on the Edge shop had lain dusty and empty for something like twenty five years and still had onion peel upon its floor when Makers moved in. It now looks nothing like its former Green Grocers existence. It has a very serene sense of being something modern and comfortable but not new. There is a real feeling of it being a brand new antique in itself. It feels like this is the way it always wanted to exist but had never had the opportunity before ….. Which now I come to consider it sums up Makers on the Edge quite well.
Lisa of Makers greeted me cheerfully at the front and was soon explaining with kindness and patience the concept of Up-Cycling to my naive and un educated self. The process of taking objects which had a previous life as something else before being rudely discarded and deemed at the end of their operational life and reimagining them. Some creative individual sees beyond this and phoenix like brings them back to life into something awesome …. I apologise for the use of the word “Awesome” as many have strong feelings about its use, but I feel I have to get it in at least once for its fans …. It shall not happen again.
This Up Cycling was perfectly presented by example in the form of a mirror festooned with an eclectic range of items which were obviously drawn from widely different histories, but which married together wonderfully. It was in fact difficult to imagine that this piece of Lisa’s should have ever have been anything else, that this was always what these items should have been doing in the first place. The items were drawn from an extensive collection of baubles, bangles and objects that have been collected and now wait around until Lisa can jigsaw some concept together that brings life and artistry to the old and forgotten.
Is that not truly aweso …. Erm … Great?
In the backroom, where one may come to attend workshops, there are further arrays of objects and paraphernalia. My favourite being the aforementioned McGoohan artwork peering down at me with intense scrutiny on his chiselled features.
Beyond the backroom is the workshops (toy room as I thought) of James and a laser cutter in the process of making Princess and the Pea beds. Each individual piece beautifully laser blasted out and ready for construction, including the ladder to climb to the top of the mattress. I had not even thought of the Princess and the Pea for ages I have to confess and it took me a moment to recall the details and I now wonder how it has so far avoided Disney (other animation studios are available).
While James treated me to his laser device carving the head of a fox he introduced me to a concept that I can only describe as beautiful.
“What about if there was a space in-between the microwave and the toaster? Instead of searching for an object to fit, why not ask us to create something unique to fit in that space?”
And is that not a beautiful concept? Who would have thought of walking into a shop and asking them to create something for a specific location? I find the idea so wonderful and yet so simple. I could never imagine walking into Marks and Spencers (Other shops are …. Oh you know the drill by now) and asking for something unique to be created. In Makers on the Edge you can and with such bits and pieces to choose from. Nothing seems to go to waste in Makers. Even the wooden offcuts are kept to one side ready for the day that some idea pops up for their use …..One has to wonder what happened to the onion peels they found and what artwork they ended up in……
It was with a sense of disappointment that I felt I had impeded too much on their time, but James had one more delightful treat he had to show. It was a delight of creativity that not only thrilled, but an ingenious piece of psychological manipulation which I can only describe as genius.
One by one a plastic bag was emptied, each containing a wooden building beautifully designed and presented. It is a wooden and laser cut construct of the whole row of buildings that Makers occupied. The whole terrace was recreated but with a cunning twist, each of the buildings was recreated perfectly but with the addition of street art decorating their fronts. The work is a beautiful piece to behold but also a wonderfully ingenious way of showing how street art brightens and delights. A piece of psychological warfare to encourage the area to embrace Street Art … And it worked beautifully with community embracing the idea of such art.
A true stroke of genius.
Concerned I had stolen too much of their time I made my goodbyes to James and left him in his workshop and Lisa at the Front counter. On the way out I took a few more photos and stopped briefly in the unoccupied back room to once more stare up at that focused and chiselled chap. I felt unable to resist and powerless to stop myself. Very quietly and under my breath so neither James nor Lisa would hear and think me a touch weird (as if … me weird…? Ha ..) I said those hallowed words.
“Be seeing you”
I then I left freely without being chased by a giant white inflatable ball. Shame.