The Art Shop -- Clare Weiner

The Art Shop: delightfully
situated in an old traditional row!

Earlier this week I visited our local Art Shop… Why was this significant enough to post on Facebook (my only regular one of ‘the socials’)? 

Maybe it’s continuity – continuity, like community, is important to human life. In my post, I also told readers that the Art Shop was a very human place. It is. For artists, crafters, sewing and modelling creatives, the art shop is an essential. Its raw materials – paints, canvases, sketchbooks, embroidery thread, pastels, drawing pens – and that essential art-shop smell… remembered from childhood, the Art Shop, with it brown painted outside, and its inner scent of pencils…

Noticeably, this art shop post has attracted the longest list of ‘likes’ I can remember having – friends (‘real life’), friends (FB, only), and relatives crowded to endorse the good vibes of of a shop selling artist’s materials... Evidently, all regarding the Art Shop as a humane and satisfying place!

So, why make a thing of it in this blog? Have you, like me, noticed how ‘normal’, after the pandemic, isn’t quite the ‘normal’ we’d hoped for? There’s not only, first one, then two, fierce and worrying wars in progress. We have more ‘migrants’ arriving in useless, leaky, rubber boats than ever we did. Climate Change has hotted up to extraordinarily dangerous heat waves, floods from here to India and back, earthquakes and erupting volcanoes are adding their bit.

And returning to local news, in our city, the High Street, and the smaller local shopping centre, have transformed during the months of ‘lockdown’, as basic shops selling food items and everyday suppliers for the family shop, cards, small items for presents, closed and were replaced by, most usually, cafés, restaurants, or outlets for ‘financial services’. Gone are such familiar stores as HMV (for ever), Superdrug (gone to the newly built mall, along with other familiar names), and all banks and post offices. To deal with your money, go online. To post a parcel, drive to another town. To locate your favourite store, hunt in the mall.

And most of it took place between 2019 and 2022. I am lost walking past new student accommodation (with a health centre in its basement) and what remains of once-familiar territory, now with plate glass down to the pavement and advertising pizza, Chinese food, burgers. Where are Lush and Thorntons?

In the midst of this nightmare, turn a corner, past a building site (for years a family owned department store, now being converted to a hotel), walk a few paces and re-discover the Art Shop, still, where it was, still selling what it does, same, helpful, knowledgeable, friendly staff… a haven of continuity.

Even the assurance, that behind the facades, there is still humanity, creativity, and even, maybe, community. After all, friends, and relatives, flung across countries far and wide, all agreed that for humane human life, an Art Shop is a necessity!


Susan Price said…
The smell of pencils! Ah, yes... The soft smudge of a 5B lead...
Griselda Heppel said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Griselda Heppel said…
Oh gosh Clare I do hope you're right and the Art Shop stays! Such a lovely shop, and the only place I have a hope of buying wool that might match the colours of my jumpers that have been snacked on by moths (yes I know, not strictly art as such).

Have to say I don't miss Lush, Thorntons or Superdrug one bit but I am one of the Great Legion that mourns Boswells. More and more sandwich shops everywhere, honestly doesn't anyone make their own sandwiches anymore and bring them to work? They'd save A FORTUNE. Oh, look at me, turning into my grandmother.

Sorry, I messed up this comment first time round and as you can't edit, only delete comments, that's what I did and am reposting!

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