Friday, 2 December 2016

WHAT’S IN THE SHOPS – Dianne Hofmeyr

As the darkness was closing in, on yesterday’s chilly 1st December 2016 in a temperature of 3 degrees (I’m sure much colder in other parts of the UK) I went in search of bookshop windows looking for Christmas cheer. My walkabout was limited to my borough and a little further afield.

A quick stop before darkness at the South Kensington Book Shop, a great Independent, with the sun still up and the domes and cupolas of the V & A reflecting in the single window, I found a charming alpine snow scene of houses and snow flakes made from printed paper resting on books. In a way, similar to those amazing cut-outs made from books in the V & A’s own book collection.

To the side of the village, a model castle from Usborne’s Castle books along with books touching on Christmas in varying degrees, including some Enid Blyton spoofs. 
Right next door, the Medici Gallery – not strictly a bookshop but a delightful card, paper and much more sort of shop – this being the French Quarter of London, understandably had a display of Tintin and a large Snowy that would steal a few children's hearts. 
Further afield at Daunt Books in the Fulham Road,  their pavement was being dug up and the front of the two very generous windows they usually reserve for the children’s book display were covered by engineering work screening. Inside the shop I manage to capture a view of some baubles that were put in the window just as the pavement came up.

The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots with Quentin Blake illustrating a lost Beatrix Potter story was on display and Karen, the bookseller, assured me The Fox and the Star by designer Bickford-Smith, which won the Waterstones Book of the Year, was selling well. In a limited range of colour, the illustrations of darkness contrasting with flaming orange in spreads like this were wondrously warming on a cold night.

In The Little White Company I found that Nosy Crow had put its claw in the door with quite a few titles and found this display, not in the window but on the shop floor. Interesting to note that on another table I found the White Company are producing their own baby books… all pearly and silvery and soft focus to match the pearly and silvery rooms that mums who shop here, no doubt have created for their babes.
Then in the glittery darkness and getting more frozen by the minute, I set off for Piccadilly to see what the ‘heavies’ had in their shop windows. First up was Hatchard's with the Kitty book again and great to see Three Little Monkeys by Emma Chichester Clark also illustrated by Quentin Blake and a wonderful collection of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories with the original E.H. Shepard illustrations.

Waterstones Piccadilly seemed to fill their three large windows with toys more than books. But great to see The Book of Bees which tracks bees to as far back as the dinosaurs.

And finally the majestic flying angels of Regent Street which pay homage to the original lights of 1954. If you’ve spotted one of your books here, please shout out.  Best Book Offerings go to Hatchards and winner of the Best Display goes to South Kensington Book Shop.

I wish I could have gone further afield but by now I was completely frozen and it was time to head to Jane Ray's exhibition of illustrations for the Nightingale Project and who was there but the wonderful Quentin Blake himself. Jane has produced images that can be reproduced to the height of the walls in the women's Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit at St Charles Hospital. It is an incredible display and prints are for sale in aid of the project. So if you are looking for a gift for someone special for Christmas head for no 1 Nightingale Place SW10 9NG next to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. The exhibition continues until 21st April 2017.
twitter: @dihofmeyr


Sue Bursztynski said...

You have al those wonderful book shops in your own area? Wow!

Ann Turnbull said...

Just what I thought, Sue! It must be so wonderful to have even one bookshop within walking distance. My local shopping walk takes in Tesco, Aldi, a newsagent, several of those new vaping shops, and a chemist. But what a glorious display - thank you for the lovely photos, Dianne. I'm going to London at Christmas, and look forward to seeing it all for real!

Becca McCallum said...

I thought that too! We have one bookshop in my town and it's a Big Name, but I'd love it if we had an indie bookshop too

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Thank you Sue, Ann and Becca... sorry I was out of Internet connection yesterday. But yes, here in London we are very spoilt but I must admit to being like a child every Christmas. Having grown up in South Africa the wonderful darkness and twinkling lights still excite me every time I step out the door... amazing to have all this on my own doorstep! I will never stop being beguiled by this city.

Sue Purkiss said...

Thank you for this lovely tour!