In Autumn 2016, Matthew was lucky enough to work with Katie Etheridge and Simon Persighetti on Personal Shopper – “a two-year project exploring and celebrating the rich network of relationships between shoppers, traders and goods in Leeds Kirkgate Market.” Personal Shopper: Cornucopia was the culmination of the project and took place as part of Compass Festival 2016. Katie and Simon set up shop in an empty market stall, from which a series of guided (and mis-guided) tours set off each day for the duration of the festival. The tours were all devised and led by different people – shoppers, traders, artists and market enthusiasts.
Matthew led a poetry tour through the market, based around a series of conversations with traders on his favourite stalls. Each trader was asked to identify the favourite item that they sold, and Matthew found and recited a different poem for each one – as well as telling some personal stories about his own experiences of shopping in the Market.
The poems he read were:
- ‘Coffee in Heaven’ by John Agard at Teapot, Tea and Coffee Ltd.
- ‘He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven’ by W.B. Yeats at B & M Fabrics.
- ‘I Ate a Chili Pepper’ by Barbara Vance at Spice Corner
- ‘To Eat of Meat Joyously’ by Bertolt Brecht at Malcolm Michaels Quality Butchers
- ‘Choosing Shoes’ by Frida Wolfe for Timpson’s Shoe Repairs
- ‘Oyster’ by Robin Robertson for Tarbett’s fishmongers
- ‘This is Just to Say’ by William Carlos Williams (a poem about plums) at Tony Banks & Sons, greengrocers
- ‘To Whom It May Concern’ by Andrew Motion (a poem about Ice Cream) at Fultons
He also created his own poem to record the tour – each line evoking a sound, a texture, a scent, a taste or an image from each of the stalls he visited. You can read the poem below.
Taking part in the project was a great way to learn more about the market. It offered up a whole new set of perspectives on a familiar and well-known place and offered an opportunity to work with two brilliant artists who were engaged in thinking about the connections between place and community in ways that were both similar and different to 365LeedsStories.
Early Weight Watchers: “In the middle of the market was a man with a set of scales you could sit on. You could get weighed for a penny.”
by Matthew Bellwood
The delicate milky white of oyster flesh
The cold moonlight yellow of cheap ice-cream
The rich dark brown of coffee-grounds
The bright raw red of fresh-cut meat
The vivid green of dangling chilies
The dark blue bruise of shiny plum skin
The rainbow racks of coloured fabric
The tar-black polish in the silver tin
These brightly coloured bargains are made vivid and appealing,
By the people and the stories underneath the leaky ceiling
There is nothing that is sold here that cannot be bought elsewhere
But the items being sold here are being sold with care
There is pride in independence, there is freedom and good grace
In owning your own business, in connecting with a place
In remembering a customer, in not costing the earth
In knowing where things come from and how much things are worth
In giving good directions or good guidance or advice
Or a discount to a regular who can’t afford the price
It may not have the glamour of John Lewis or The Trinity
But a bustling market holds a kind of divinity
For what it has instead is warmth and humanity
And human shops for human people is a kind of sanity