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Shopkeepers of the World is a project in St Leonards on Sea and Bexhill on the East Sussex coast, celebrating the role of charity shops in our community, the people they support and the community they serve. A familiar feature dotting high streets across many coastal towns, the charity shop is a vessel for memories of people and place. The objects they hold reveal previously untold stories and unlock individual and collective memories. In the following pages you will read the familiar and unlikely stories told by people making donations to their local charity shops and scooping up some precious finds.

ARTWORKS IN SHOPS 8th - 30th September 2018 Check usual shop opening times.


Saturday 22nd September, 10am - 4pm The Hastings Centre, The Ridge, Hastings As part of Thriftfest, Shopkeepers of the World artists will be running free workshops exploring different creative processes that have been developed in charity shops in Bexhill and St Leonards on Sea. Explore textiles, sculpture and the secret lives of objects. In association with Hastings Furniture Service.

Over a period of six months, four artists have been spending time with the custodians of charity shops, their staff and volunteers, to explore their relationship with the shop and the objects that come into their care. A series of artworks made in collaboration with partner charity shops have been installed in 4 charity shops across St Leonards on Sea and Bexhill. Fold out this zine to reveal a trail of shops and artworks. Shopkeepers of the World has been conceived and produced by Quiet Down There and delivered in partnership with St Michael’s Hospice, Shelter, Hastings Furniture Service, Hastings and Bexhill Mencap, De La Warr Pavilion, Jerwood and Arts Council England.

The following are extracts from interviews recorded by Esther Springett, Eleanor Finlay Christensen, Jane Brigstock and Christina Keep during project Donation Days.

This marks the first chapter of Shopkeepers To listen to the full-length recordings and more, visit: bit.ly/SKOTWplaylist of the World.

CLOTHES FROM MY YOUTH CHILDRENS BOOTS donated by Chris to St Michael’s Hospice

donated by Emily in Bexhill

I’ve donated a little bit, mainly clothes, clothes from my youth. I’ve just outgrown them, going from a boy to a man. I feel a little bit sad, sort of bitter-sweet I think. It’s almost like letting go of my youth in a way... I’m getting older. But I know when you get older you have to move on. You have to grow up as a person. I try not to keep hold of too much. Too many items. Like junk. Although I do have an emotional attachment to them. I think it’s important to have the memories. So I remember all the stuff that I’ve had, stuff that I’ve worn and stuff that I’ve played with that I’ve had an emotional attachment with. And I think the memories are worth more than the item. Cause the items tend to clutter up your room. So once in a while you need to have a spring clean.

I kept the box because inside are these little shoes that I bought for my son. He’s now seven but I bought them for him when he must have been about one and a half. Because he’s one and a half he didn’t want to wear big clompy shoes like I wear which is why I bought them because I wear Dr Marten’s everyday… He doesn’t want to wear these shoes, he just wants to wear bare feet or soft shoes so I saved them in case I had another child, which I did. A girl And she didn’t want to wear them either. So I thought I would pass them onto somebody else.

”IT'S ALMOST LIKE LETTING GO OF MY YOUTH IN A WAY...” It depends on the item. Some people might find it quite sad or difficult to let go. If it’s a family heirloom, that’s more difficult to let go. I think clothing is probably a bit easier because you can buy new clothes. You can’t replace sentimental items like heirlooms, like those shoes for example, if a child had worn them. Some mums keep the baby socks in their baby diary. They keep hold of little things like that… Little mementos.


donated item made by Osin – Aged 5

”I STUCK COTTON WOOL DOWN THEM” They were winter boots. They were uncomfortable. I played in the snow. Splashy, splashy in the snow. Christmas morning. Bong bang bing bang bong. An ant, a woodlice, a caterpillar and a…. spider. The spider was spinning a web. It was from the gate to the floor.

NEEDLEPOINT EMBROIDERY donated by Susan to Mencap charity shop, St Leonards on Sea

It’s a textile, it’s been handmade by somebody very patient. I’m not sure who it belonged to… I think it’s for a chair, judging by the shape. I feel kind of relieved about donating it in a way. Because… because, you live in a limited space and you’ve just got all this stuff and you’ve got to pack it away. And then suddenly last year I found it… Basically I just have lots of little fabrics. And I make various bits, patchwork stuff like that. And then this was draped over a chair. It just makes things look nice, I just like lots of colour.

THE WHITE SKIRT donated item made by Barbara

"BECAUSE OF THIS NEW LIFE, I’M FINDING IT DOESN'T FIT IN.” It had a flare to it. And I think it reminded me of a photograph that I saw of my mother in one from when she was fairly young with her sister, walking along. It was in Brighton and they had these long white skirts. It would have been pre-war time, where they used to wear long white skirts with white shoes. And she and her sister looked so beautiful. And it sort of swished along as she went. And I just felt that… that probably could’ve been me as well. It didn’t suit me in the way it did them. Or it wasn’t the right occasion.

“IT’S JUST ANOTHER ITEM I NEED TO GET RID OF... BECAUSE OTHERWISE IT’S A BURDEN FOR ME.” My mother used to make these. Just for something to do. She was very artistic. So this was her way, cause she didn’t paint. Well she did paint, she could really paint, but she didn’t do it anymore... She was actually trained at the Slade. She was a textile designer, then she got married and then she never did it anymore. So that was that. I suppose it must have been hard to find a job and erm you know… she just didn’t do it. She had children. That was that.

HABERDASHERY JIGSAW donated by Eleanor to St Micheal’s Hospice

My mum and I got it from a charity shop. That’s where we get nearly all our jigsaw puzzles and a lot of the time, once we’ve finished it, we will donate and pass it on. Otherwise we would have a huge stack of jigsaw puzzles...well, we already do have a huge stack of jigsaw puzzles but we’d have an even bigger pile of them. That’s our thing we like to do together - do jigsaws. It’s something that we’ve done mainly since we moved to Hastings because now we’ve got a lot more space. We’re in a bigger house and now we have room to leave a specific area for doing jigsaws which is awesome.

“PUZZLES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN OUR THING.” My mum once told me her Nan always used to have a puzzle on the go. And so it’s something that she just has always done in a kind of family tradition.


donated by Claire to Hastings Furniture Service, Bexhill It’s sort of old technology however I’ve heard recently that people are releasing their albums on cassette. It’s probably really trendy! So it’s gone from historical, obsolete to on trend. So I’m sure somebody can do something with them.


donated item made by Paula and Carl Hundreds of lightbulbs. She must have had a phobia about being in the dark.


donated by Leslie in St Leonards on Sea It’s like recycling. It’s like a season. It comes to me for a while and I release it back into the system. The last thing I recycled was a dinner set that I bought. It was Doulton. Beautiful green. I found it in a place up north called Hebden Bridge. The colour got me. Apparently it belonged to an old lady. I had it for about five years and green wasn’t the colour in the dinning suite anymore so I thought where shall I give it to?

“ WHEN PEOPLE SAY, ‘AH THERE’S TOO MANY OF THESE CHARITY SHOPS ON H IGH STREETS’, I SAY ‘YES,THAT’S WHAT WE NEED’- SO WE CAN SEE THE INSIDES OF OUR LIVES BEING EXTERNALISED.” We had a post graduation dinner. There were about eleven of us… It just felt like we were stepping back in time. There was Conrad, Jackie, Amber, Lauren, Daren. I was going to be a medic but then I thought uhh, doctors are all about disease, I’m not into disease. I want to know about health! That hospital green… I just feel grateful that I had it.... I feel a bit emotional, it’s weird.


a charity shop find by Susan and Ian

I’m so excited! I’ve got lots of Lego and I’ve been a Lego collector since I was little so I’ve got enough Lego to make snow and all sorts of stuff now. [To make snow] you have to subtly stack it so that it’s in front of and behind buildings and sort of make it as though it’s banking. It’s all very cunning.

“THIS IS GOING TO HELP MAKE THE CHRISTMAS VILLAGE.” There’s red Lego and yellow Lego and practically Lego of every colour. There’s also little people and a little man on a bicycle. There’s also a lady with red hair… mine’s faded a little bit at the moment but I normally have bright red hair. So I couldn’t pass it by. My dad and I used to play with Lego together. We had all my Lego in a huge Quality Street tin. It was actually a metal tin in those days. We had lots of fun in those days. I’ve got all sorts of other things at home that I make at Christmas into a sort of Christmas Village. This is going to help make the Christmas Village.


donated by Anne to St Michael’s Hospice, Bexhill There were certain things she’d never part with and these were three of them. She loved the cut glass. She used to have the decorative dish by her chair filled with toffees… and chocolate éclairs. This used to have a posey of flowers in it that was kept I think in the bathroom or the kitchen.

“I JUST HAD THIS IDEA OF ADULTERATING THESE OBJECTS IN A VERY SUBTLE WAY TO SEE IF SHE’D NOTICED.” When I came down here I used to joke with mum about all her ornaments. You know the clowns and the kitsch dolls and the sentimental frilly dresses and everything. I used to tease her and she used to kind of tell me off. In a bantering kind of way you know... So I got some of them and I did quite rude things to them. I got some clay… and say with the female ornaments, I put a cleavage in the dress and things like that and some other naughty bits and pieces that were quite cheeky… A few of them I couldn’t even show her.


donated by Jane to Mencap Charity Shop, St Leonards on Sea I’ve got six almost sorted green stem wine glasses. They’re of a special type that were popular in the 60s I’d say. If you go to the charity shop and you look at the glass display, you’ll see one or two of these lurking at the back corner. They’ll cost about fifty pence. I had to gather up around sixty because my daughter wanted to get married and she wanted to get married at our house. I wanted something special to serve the toast in. The idea was that the guests would take their glasses away with them but you know, the wedding got a bit out of hand and nobody took their glasses away. So I’ve now got sixty of them.


a previously donated item made by Hanna in St Leonards on Sea I went to the tip in East Sussex with my dad and I was probably about seven or eight years old. We were throwing stuff in and I saw the legs of a teddy sticking out and I felt so guilty that this teddy had been thrown away. It was a real traditional, yellowy gold bear and he looked old and unloved.

“I WAS SO YOUNG AND SENSITIVE I FELT LIKE IT NEEDED TO GO TO A NICE HOME...” My dad didn’t want us to keep him because I had enough toys. We rescued the teddy and then we took him home, cleaned him up and we took him to the charity shop so that he would then get bought by someone and go to a nice home and not just be in a tip. With thanks to: Ronie, Ben, Helen, Dejay and Leigh at Shelter. Ann, Bernedine, Christina, Jacqui, Jorge, Joy, June, Pam, Phillomena, Sue and Tracy from Hastings & Bexhill Mencap. Sue, Dee, Karen, Alex, Lorraine, Jodie and Pat from St Michael’s Hospice. Debbie, Naomi, Gerald and Jill from Hastings Furniture Service, Bexhill. Thanks to Jane Perkins and Dot Hill for their technical support. www.quietdownthere.co.uk @quietdownthere #ShopkeepersOTW Illustrations by: Eleanor Finlay Christensen Logo design: Lucy Van de Gucht and Back to Front

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Shopkeepers of the World Zine  

Shopkeepers of the World is a project in St Leonards on Sea and Bexhill on the East Sussex coast, celebrating the role of charity shops in o...

Shopkeepers of the World Zine  

Shopkeepers of the World is a project in St Leonards on Sea and Bexhill on the East Sussex coast, celebrating the role of charity shops in o...