Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Artist Captures Town's Shops before They Become History; before the Relentless March of the Supermarket, Specialist Shops Kept Our Pantries Stocked. TONY HENDERSON Meets an Artist Who Has Made Them Her Subject Matter

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Artist Captures Town's Shops before They Become History; before the Relentless March of the Supermarket, Specialist Shops Kept Our Pantries Stocked. TONY HENDERSON Meets an Artist Who Has Made Them Her Subject Matter

Article excerpt

IF a candlestick maker had somehow survived in Berwick then Swedish artist Brita Granstr'm would have painted him. After all, Brita has already produced a series of paintings of a local butcher and baker.

In the absence of demand today for candlesticks, Brita has substituted cockle-sweet maker.

That is a reference to the Cowe family, who set up a sweet making company in 1801 and turned out tins of the celebrated Berwick Cockles.

Brita painted William Cowe in his traditional grocery shop in Berwick and his brother Francis in his wholesale sweet shop, both of which have now closed.

That inspired her to summon up the courage to ask other small shop owners if she could also record their activities.

The results can be seen in Brita's new exhibition at Northumbria University Gallery, titled Butcher, Baker, Cockle Sweet-Maker.

"The grocery shop was like Beamish Museum, with gas lights, tea chests and a payment hatch," says Brita, who lives near Berwick with author and illustrator husband Mick Manning and their four sons.

"When I heard that the Cowe brothers' shops were closing I asked if I could paint them.

"I felt privileged that they allowed me to go in and paint their last few weeks of business.

"William also let me paint the 18th Century grandeur of the rooms above the shop.

"Since then I have been inspired to document other shops and shopkeepers in what has become a personal commentary on the homogenisation of town high streets - small shopkeepers being squeezed out by the bargain store and the supermarket.

"I looked for places in Berwick with that genuine, old-fashioned feel."

The chosen butcher was the R Norris shop, run by Davey Scott.

"He is a fantastic character and it is a real old-fashioned shop," says Brita.

"Butchers traditionally always did well supplying Berwick's bed and breakfast trade. But again the supermarkets and vac-pack freezer stores are forcing many local butchers to close. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.