Markets return to Brixton’s Department Store

woman in front of large window
Lee Wilson outside the Department Store

A chance to see and touch an ‘inessential’ thing that you might want to buy will be one of the draws at Brixton’s Department Store later this month at the first of three Designers and Makers markets. Simone Richardson spoke to organiser Lee Wilson and exhibitors Symone Mcdonald and Tipperleyhill’s Abi and Ron

Born and raised in Lincolnshire, but living in South London for many years, means Lee Wilson has warmed to the area over the years.

And she loves the Department Store, the headquarters building architects Squire and Partners created from the former furniture depository of the Bon Marché department store on Ferndale Road.

Once a dilapidated home to squatters, the Refugee Council and Brixton’s main Post Office, the building, in addition to studios and offices, now also houses two areas open to the public – Downstairs, hosting exhibitions, meetings and markets, and the members and guests only bar, Upstairs.

“I’ve been a member for quite a while, so I’m looking forward to spending my Fridays with friends,” says Lee.

“I can’t wait for normality, and to start socialising again.”

The first markets, with a total of 54 exhibitors, will be Downstairs on Saturday and Sunday 22 and 23 May, from 11am to 5.30pm. Entry is free, but register on Eventbrite.


Lee’s varied career has taken in food, events management, music management and promotion, magazine publishing, and business advice, as well as markets.

She used to own a restaurant, Storm, opposite the Globe theatre on Bankside in Southwark while the replica of Skakespeare’s original was being built in the 90s.

She met many famous faces – “they had nowhere else to drink coffee at that time when Bankside was very undeveloped,” says Lee.

“My cafe was the star of the show – so much so, that I developed the menu for the Prologue season at the Globe in 1996 that was sold to the audience by wenches!”

Lee has moved through lockdown helping others to promote themselves in whatever way is necessary.

“I spend my working day freelancing for companies who need a bit of a leg-up in sales and business development – so it is very varied,” she explains.

“I could be working in education one week and oil and gas the next.

baby in fashion attire
Wee Clothing

“I also buy and sell vintage ceramics and quirky items at flea and vintage markets across London.”

“The event at the Department Store will bring together a diverse collection of artists, designers and makers, providing a platform or stage from which they might sell.

“It usually guarantees the sellers a good audience and footfall over the two days.”

Symone Mcdonald is one of the artists whose work will be at the market in Brixton on 22 and 23 May.

“Art has always played a major part in our lives,” she says.

“I actually remember when Jerome – my brother – and I would make drawings on the computer using Microsoft Paint as children.

“Where Jerome continued down the technical route, I moved towards paper and found something so satisfying about a blank canvas.

painting on easel

“Continuous elements within my work have been portraiture, the body and colour.

“The idea behind my current series is to use colour and large strokes to create the female form.

“My aim is to use the medium and method to convey the sensual elements of the body.

“I want my viewers to get lost in the movement of the paint and boldness of colours. I’ve tried to remain quite arbitrary with my palette. I want people to love the female form as much as I do.’’

painting on easel

Two more exhibitors, Abi and Roz – jointly Tipperleyhill – [] create art ranging from quirky, personalised animal prints to bright, splashy florals.

Abi paints the animals and Roz adds the patterns to prints. For their original art, they both paint on the pieces at the same time.

Since social distancing Abi and Roz have worked by post. One starts the paintings, and sends them to the other to finish in their mixture of styles to create textural pieces with lots of layers and depth of colour.

cocktail and bottle of rum

Not only will you be able to see and touch what’s on offer at the market, you will also be able to enjoy Brixton Distillery’s award-winning Market Row rum as well as Brixton Gin at a pop-up cocktail bar.

“It’s an event for Brixton in Brixton,” says Lee. “A unique experience and an amazing platform for these wonderful creatives who lost their live selling platform because of Covid.

“It’s a unique destination shopping experience helping small businesses, artists and designers re-establish their live selling platform.”

Exhibitors over the two days will include

Dear Katiopae