An independent shop in East Dulwich selling an eclectic mix of vintage children’s clothes, child-related thingamajigs and mid-century objects for the home? Well, nothing new there.
But the twist with this particular pop-up is that local artist Hatty Lee has collected and carefully curated a selection all inspired by an iconic little cartoon hero from a bygone era.
If you’re of a certain age the 1970s kids’ telly prog Mr Benn will be ensconced in your memory as much as Grange Hill or Blue Peter. “I have fond memories of Mr Benn going into the shop, trying on a costume and immediately being transported into another world,” she says, “be it as a knight, a cowboy or a spaceman.” Didn’t we all?
The shop is a truly personal affair, inﬂuenced by Hatty’s background as a child growing up. “My father became an artist in his retirement and turned the whole house into an installation of his artworks with every wall and surface covered. Without realising it the things that I have been collecting and selling are very similar to the colours of his artworks and the bright 1970s colours that my parents painted the walls of our family home.”
In fact, Mrs Benn has been around a block a bit herself: starting out as a market stall on Northcross Road market in SE15 selling second-hand and vintage children’s clothes, she then expanded to vintage mid-century antiques and collectables in Spitalﬁelds market.
And now this. “When my partner moved his bookshop Rye Books down the road to a larger premises the opportunity arose to do a pop-up shop in the old store,” she says.
Part shop, part assemblage, the pop-up is due to last until Christmas: to add to its sense of special-ness, Hatty has invited 21 fellow artists, designers and makers to make work in response to the Mrs Benn Shop.
“I wanted to involve my friends and to bring something more contemporary and creative to the shop before it closes,” she says.
As each artist completes their work, it’ll be displayed alongside the objects and collectibles in the shop, culminating in a private view of all the artworks in the first week in December.
“What’s really exciting is that I have no idea what each artist will come up with or what customers will go away with.”
A little like the animated classic itself, then.
Main image: Mrs Benn