Tuesday, 27 September 2011
Posing in the park
The Flower Sellers are in a children's play area in London Fields, but on a Saturday afternoon, close to fashionable Broadway Market, they are taken over by adults sipping cappuccino and hanging out. The figures represent London costermongers with baskets of produce and a few sheep (not in the picture), commemorating the trade in Victorian times when livestock from Essex was driven through London Fields on the way to Smithfield, then the main meat market, and Broadway was a regular food market. The stones are an allusion to the pearl button decorations worn by the pearly kings and queens, who came out of the costermongering tradition and elaborated the traditional decorations already popular with the street traders. There is something borrowed, too, from those East Anglian cottages studded with pebbles. Designed and constructed in 1988 by Freeform Arts Trust, the community arts organisation based in the nearby Hothouse, the Flower Sellers are made of concrete and decorated with stones and broken tiles, a little bit like the art nouveau sculptures in Barcelona but with an East End palette of greys and browns.