“This is London in all its retail glory, our city in the beginning of the 21st century and I’m asking, how does it make you feel?” So says Barnaby Barford of his stunning and fascinating six metre high The Tower of Babel, which you can see at the V&A.
Well, we certainly felt very pleased when we found out that our Bespoke shop on Clifford Street had been reproduced as one of the piece’s constituent 3,000 bone china miniatures (see right, bottom) and features towards the very top of the Tower (the bottom begins with boarded up places and works itself up through pound shops and beyond…) and told Barnaby so. “Because you are an important part of London!” he replied.
Barnaby cycled over 1,000 miles when he was making his tower and took pictures of over 6,000 shops, from the least toothsome High Street chicken shops to the grandest auction houses and exacting Bespoke Savile Row tailors like us. He then selected 3,000 of his pictures and used them to produce china miniatures of their subjects. And then he used said miniatures to build his tower, “a monument to the pastime of shopping, perhaps the principal leisure pursuit of contemporary British society,” which also clearly demonstrates the stark fragility of our economy as well as the great diversity of London and the increasing gap between its haves and have nots.
Cannily, each of the miniatures is for sale, with prices starting at £95 for something derelict to £6,000 for the finest fine art gallery. You get, as they say, what you pay for.