Theatre of the past

Theatre of the past is a series of portraits of the antique dealers of Barcelona's gothic quarter. An antique shop is a theatre of the past. The set – a sensory feast of props, elegantly ordered or jumbled chaotically – evokes memories, emotions and desires. The antique dealer is both creator and protagonist of this performance. Individual and idiosyncratic they deal in nostalgia for what used to be - in others’ memories and in their own. They re-enact the surreal world of yesterday, conspiring with their public to stop the rolling on of time.  

The very profession is itself slipping into the past. In Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter the traditional antique businesses are threatened by changing tastes and rising rents. One by one shops that have existed for generations disappear and are replaced by fashionable boutiques.Of the 27 dealers in the 2011 book only ten now remain trading. This collection of collectors reflects not only my longstanding fascination with the dealers and their shops, but also a wider concern with the progressive commercialisation of city centres and the consequent stifling of originality, freedom and diversity.

The project was displayed in a cultural centre in the Gothic Quarter, each portrait in an antique frame, accompanied by the dealer's comments on their history and their trade, in Catalan, Spanish and English.  The images and supporting text are also available as self-published books in each of the three languages.