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  • Writer's pictureKerry Morrison

Word Walking

A venture in to the Happy Jolly Joy of independent trader shopping in London

A new work created in response to Covid-19 by Suzi Warren

With the reopening of shops after lockdown, I felt a necessity to help funnel people away from large chains towards small, more sustainable or second hand traders. To accentuate the pleasure and purpose of supporting local rather than migrating to out of town retail parks (an oxymoron if ever there was one) I’ve started work on a series of maps, which illustrate walking routes where clusters of vintage, second-hand and independent shops are gathered. Each map spells out a word created from the shapes of the streets along which the shops can be found. In Islington, for instance, the walking route spells out HAPPY. This is the Happy Walk. In Greenwich, JOY:Joy as you walk along the roads of the old town and through it’s indoor craft market.

Coming up next, I am about to venture along the JOLLY walk around Portobello Road and it’s environs. Each word walking map is embellished with (stars) the boutiques and charity shops along its route as well as other independent points of interest like farmer’s markets, cafe’s etc.

My aim is to draw attention to the areas of London where local trading is thriving (or was, prior to the pandemic) and enhance the emotional experience of shopping there by quite literally spelling out the benefit in the words created by the relevant streets: Happy, Jolly Joy… These word walk maps have an immediate emotional visual impact and I hope to find equally uplifting words for the streets of Peckham, Chiswick, Deptford and Dulwich. I’m confident that the very roads will aid me in my quest to celebrate and honour their shopkeepers.

As an aside, an interesting observation is that this exercise simply doesn’t work for many areas where recent, mass-market retail developments have created straight lines and boxes on the map. No curved streets, side streets, winding alleyways, courtyards… so no ‘O’s, ’S’s, ‘E’s or ‘A’s. Just a bunch of ‘L’s, ’T’s and ‘X’s. No good for happy walks.

This is a new venture and adventure and a slight departure from my professional on-line shop. It’s taking me into new territory and in doing so, connecting me with other independent outlets and traders in London. As my lexicon progresses, I hope to add a little information about each outlet and maybe even offer a discount code!


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