Tom Phillips - 20 Slideshows

20 Slideshows

07. Frencheés ('The Can Can Boutique') c. 12.15 pm.

  • 1973

  • 1974

  • 1975

  • 1976

  • 1977

  • 1978

  • 1979

  • 1980

  • 1981

  • 1982

  • 1983

  • 1984

  • 1985

  • 1986

  • 1987

  • 1988

  • 1989

  • 1990

  • 1991

  • 1992

  • 1993

  • 1994

  • 1995

  • 1996

  • 1997

  • 1998

  • 1999

  • 2000

  • 2001

  • 2002

  • 2003

  • 2004

  • 2005

  • 2006

  • 2007

  • 2008

  • 2009

  • 2010

  • 2011

  • 2012

  • 2013

  • 2014

  • 2015

  • 2016

  • 2017

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The typical London sixties boutique reached Camberwell in the early seventies and the Can Can has the bright optimistic look typical of the genre. In 1975 a certain dilapidation (and the notices announcing a Final Sale) indicated that it was not to last. It was replaced by the strangely spelt Frencheés which looked even more temporary but seemed to have succeeded better and gave itself a new facade (and a more plausible spelling of its name) in 1978. By 1983 its fashionable white awning was looking the worse for wear: it died in 1985. The uncertain future of the area had led to a blight in its shops as indicated by the eight years during which the nearby chemists was for sale before it briefly became a headquarters for the Camberwell Society (the local conservation group of which I was once a member, before, that is, taking up the disinterested standpoint exemplified by 20 Sites). This in turn was replaced by Sight & Sound, replaced itself in 1983 by Greek City Video of which I was a life member until 1992 when I found I had outlived it.

Also seen are the Public Baths and The Artichoke pub. The Baths has a clock which only infrequently tells the right time and a facade which gives little excitement except when in 1985/6 it told us (not very effectively since the banner was usually slack and twisted) that RATE CAPPING MAKES NO SENSE. It celebrated the Jubilee in minimal style with a small Royal Portrait in the window; in contrast to The Artichoke's cheerful bunting. Like the Marlborough, The Artichoke flirts with updating and downdating simultaneously, especially in the late eighties when traditional became modern.

The camera faces a road crossing: hence the only moment when traffic leaves the motif visible is when people traverse the road in front of the yellow crisscrossing (alternately fading and reviving in colour) of the painted 'box'.

In 1988 the whole crossing was revised and much new street furniture appeared in front of the ex-boutique which had now, astonishingly, become an art gallery called Giray specialising in a camp-gothic range of artworks. Giray did not last until 1989 when the building fell vacant once more. 20 Sites completely fails to document its resurrection as a boutique (The Factory Store) whose whole history occurs between the photographs of 1991 and 1992 leaving barely a trace.

Another cycle of rising and falling begins with the disappearance of one of the new nautical bollards.