Lisa Williams takes a peak behind the Crossrail building site at Dean Street, to find out about City Showcase’s first Soho Flea Market
Since works on the Crossrail started in 2010, it’s been easy to overlook Dean Street, as building site boards flew up left, right and centre. But, behind the barricades, it’s business as usual – and Dean Street is a road not easily forgotten: from its rich history, which counts the residency of a young Karl Marx and a pre-Battle of Trafalgar Admiral Nelson among its chapters, to its current mix of businesses and nightspots.
And while the arrival of the Crossrail meant the departure of several of the street’s best-loved shops, it has made it easier to hold the Soho Flea Market. This event, which takes place for the first time on Sunday, will see the road closed to traffic and lined, instead, with market stalls. Selling their wares on the day will be emerging creatives, including fashion designers, glass blowers and print artists, picked and curated by Karim Ladak of design boutique Potassium.
Many of the featured designers are from the area, and none of them have any means of distribution, other than online – meaning this will be our first chance to browse and buy their products in person. Among the products going on sale are Lou Rota’s quirky “upcycled” vintage plates, and Melanie Porter’s red, white and blue armchairs. There will also be a portrait artist working on the day and a stand where you can create your own screen print.
“This is a full, artisan, pop-up event,” says event organiser Nanette Rigg, whose background is in entertainment law. She set up a charity called City Showcase in 2003 with her sister, after thinking about how hard it is to break into the creative industries.
Their work so far has been centred on music, holding gigs around London for new talent (acts they’ve staged in the past include Amy Winehouse, Keane and Seth Lakeman), and this is their first full-blown design event. “We’re about getting creatives to work together, and to find outlets for them,” she explains. “All our events are about trying to help this level of people that are not yet breaking through. It’s so difficult now, we thought, ‘Why don’t we create a market?’”
Many of the street’s businesses are putting on events to mark the day. For instance, the Candy Bar is hosting a fashion show, Pizza Express will have some live music, and Zenna Bar houses an art exhibition. There will also be stage for live music, poetry and comedy.
“If everyone could come down that would be marvellous. It’s free and they will have a ball,” says Rigg.