It was cold enough to do despicable things to brass monkeys, yet still the resilient stall keepers assembled to display and sell their amazing wares at The West End Winter Market. Devised by the community in collaboration with More Music, The Exchange artistic community and The Re-Store on Yorkshire Street. A cast of thousands including West End Million and funding from Creative Civic Change. A lot of hard work in co-ordination from Emma Wareing and the Winter Market had reached fruition and its debut.
Boots, Hats and scarves were very much in evidence as the winter chose this particular weekend to truly impose itself. Not to be put off, plenty of punters took a turn in the mobile, wood burning sauna. Providing one hundred delightful degrees of soul restoring steam within an aesthetically pleasing rustic trailer complete with conical chimney. A joy to behold steam engulfed customers exiting with smiles and ruddy complexions. I was just a little miffed my commitments meant I couldn’t take a turn myself.
The stalls themselves did not disappoint and the skills and imagination on display helped me to realise the vast creative potential that exists within all of us. It waits to be set free when the correct motivation presents itself. The sheer quality of the gifts and artwork on display serves to highlight the importance of this market in demonstrating what can be achieved when people come together with a common purpose.
On offer were dynamic ceramics and class in glass. Fantastic molten plastic and works in wax and wool. Pictures in punctured paper, paint and pencil. Extraordinary artifice in evidence. I found myself buying things indiscriminately as I wandered through the Fare chatting away to the friendly vendors.
Another great attraction of the Winter Market was the “Snowflake” an immersive sensory adventure set within the challenging confines of a small marquee. A triumph of graft and imagination from The Exchange Artistic Community. We are guided through an entrance of fur coats into a tantalising Narniaesque land by a handsome troll and led through an enchanted forest where time has frozen. The smells, sound and lighting transport our imagination and our pathway leads us to forgotten art gallery wherein lies the last snowflake and the mesmeric reveal of the beautiful and ethereal Snow Queen, trapped within a picture frame as she bestows gifts of snowflake charms on hardy travellers. A tour de force, judging by the children’s sense of bewilderment on exiting the experience.
The whole success of the West End Winter Market, to my mind, was the great sense of community spirit that it evoked. Mouth watering Polish street food coupled with a cornucopia of cupcakes and spicy burritos were a very welcoming sight. The people sang and danced and laughed away the evening despite the unwelcome attentions of Jack Frost. Each and everyone who was involved in creating this wonderful event should be immensely proud of themselves. It left me with a sense of integrity, of community and of togetherness. A great feeling in these dark days of polarization. Despite me involuntarily twerking through the cold, I was left with a warm and contented feeling. No such thing as society?? Bah! Humbug! Roll on the next market. Please don’t make it a year. Merry Christmas one and all.
Photography by local: https://www.gkoppenholphotography.com/
Blog By Jim Lupton
Jim is a local resident, active community member, creative writer based on West Street and general all round good human. Expanding his talents to playwriting and acting in this year's locally made panto.
We would like to thank him for writing this blog, capturing the memories and sharing his experience.