I’ve been a huge fan of Brixton ever since I was lucky enough to live in or around there (Camberwell, Loughborough Junction…just off Coldharbour Lane) for five years in the late 1990s. When I went back to visit Brixton Market recently, I was astonished by the changes, particularly in the labyrinth-like Arcades area. Brixton Market has always been a totally fascinating mixture of great restaurants, hard-to-acquire produce and meats and inspiring little boutiques, but the level of artisanship and the diversity of the cuisines on offer now is truly mind-blowing.
I visited Brixton Market with the delightful and clued-up Zaynab, a representative from Pocket High Street, a website that is introducing innovative new ways of looking at, representing and interacting with the British High Street, at a time when retail is, of course, changing faster than pretty much anyone can fully comprehend, even those in the business.
Even within such a dynamic environment, a few places stood out. Studio 73 has the self-professed mandate to draw upon local artistic talent with a “lot of South London flavour”, without being “too precious about the idea of Brixton”, according to staffer Suzanne Fraser. The “idea of Brixton” is a really interesting one – it’s a neighbourhood with a very strong resonance, both for its loyal residents and also an evocative word for pretty much anyone in Britain and the Caribbean.
Run by a talented photographer called Adrian Flower for the last four or five years, Studio 73 have a different show every two weeks. The brilliant Sian Therese was a recent exhibitor and artists from all over London are showcased. Bella West is another London photographic talent with a space in Brixton. Her eponymous shop showcases her portrait and wedding photograph, with a modern style that is simultaneously timeless.
Around the corner at Circus Brixton, Tabitha Rout has been sourcing wonderful artefacts from all over the world for the last five years, including some amazing ceramics from Kyoto. Tabitha used to run a stall in Portobello Road and scours the globe for new pieces. Her next project is a pop up shop in Brooklyn.
Out on bustling, iconic thoroughfare Coldharbour Lane, Omnis is also well worth a look. It’s a lifestyle store with a wide array of appealing clothing and interior design and furnishing options, with a strikingly cute selection of baby clothes.
After all that shopping there are plenty of places to enjoy the very best of world cuisine in Brixton Market. Cornercopia is a cult favourite, with its on trend mixture of café dining and deli shopping, with plenty of local produce. If you’ve never visited Brixton Market, you don’t know what you’re missing, and if, like me, you hadn’t visited for a while, you really must get back down there to refresh your memory of this unique, remarkable and thriving place.
This piece is the first of three I will be writing about iconic London markets, with Camden and Stratford coming next.