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arts and crafts
Should you be of the age to remember Carnaby Street, W1, you may well find yourself wondering, as you attempt to make your way up Camden High Street, why you are experiencing this sudden flash of déja vu - that's because Carnaby Street was hoisted up out of the West End and dropped here on the fringes of the London Borough of Camden some 30 years ago only no-one noticed, or at least no-one's letting on. Of course, you realise, the same day-glo jewellery and 60s paraphernalia is still here intact with its union jacks and bright fluorescent paint box colours. There is a lot of tourist time and money to be made out of the 60s and we loved them so much didn't we, that we can't bear to let them go.... However, don't let his put you off in your search for what the Camden markets offer in the way of arts and crafts - there is a wide selection here. Every visit to the markets is a unique experience - there are always new things to see and buy: with arts and crafts from all over the world: jewellery, paintings, sculpture, ceramics, woodwork and art objects from Africa, Spain, Japan, India, the South Seas and France to name but a few of the countries represented here.

The East and West Yards of Camden Lock Market have a large range of goods both in the permanent shops around the yards and on the stalls which change quite often and are a good starting point for your visit to Camden. Here you can find a range of jewellery, musical instruments, children's wooden and metal toys, and next to the canal there are lots of places to sit and watch the world go by. One of the longest-standing jewellers is Roger Stone, in the West Yard, near the canal. Roger has recently produced a range of cufflinks in sterling silver, some in the shape of teapots.


Should you be keen to purchase some tribal body adornments then Tribu have a ground floor shop in Camden Lock Market Hall full of nose and ear jewellery in bone and other materials. Also in this hall
you really can find some 'designer' bargains before they get snapped up by the mainstream shops and galleries.

Upstairs overlooking Camden Lock Place there are hand-made paper lamps and flower soaps; prints by a local Camden artist and near the exit to the East Yard Fabrice Jouet is selling small framed colour photographs of the rich colours and textures of the Brittany coastline - ideal for creating a calm space in your workplace.

Photo by Fabrice Jouet
Blue Rock - Fabrice Jouet

You can also have your meditation wand custom made by one of the few remaining 'characters' in Camden Lock Market, Steve Chard of Rainbow Visions. Steve uses precious and semi-precious stones which he says have a balancing effect on the chakras - if you don't know what a chakra is then visit Steve's stall - he is a mine of information on all things weird and wonderful. There is, he says, a resurgence of interest in his wands and magical objects since the making of films such Lord of the Rings.
  In the Stables Market in the Catacombs is Akwaaba Galleries where you can browse amongst a huge collection of African masks and linen wall hangings in rich shades of dark chocolate, sand and burnt orange. Nearby in the Arches you can find many small, inexpensive gift items such as giraffe design letter-openers; jewellery made out of camel bone, decorated in different colours; vases and bowls in all colour of woods - some painted, some just waxed to reveal the pattern of the wood grain.



The vast majority of shops and stalls in The Stables Market sell clothing and antiques but there are a few stalls where you can find designer jewellery such as bracelets made out of antique forks and spoons with semi-precious stones.
In the passageway heading towards the Triangle Arches further into Stables Market and near to Cyberdog you can find more modern ceramic and silver wire jewellery in bright translucent shades. In the warehouse, to the right contemporary 'vintage' jewellery is well represented here, much of the pieces have been created anew, using coral, jet and silver filigree. Cyberdog features a gallery of recycled art objects and sculptures made out of old radio parts, tape-recorders and washing machines, with flashing lights and LED's; more suited to a club or bar than the home.


Carolina Maggio

By now well-established an art gallery is tucked away in the Stables Catacombs and features an ever-changing selection of original works from up-and coming artists. On the first floor of the old Gin Palace in Stables is Proud Camden, two floors of outstanding & exclusive rock photography and with free entry.

It has to be said that shopping in the Camden markets always has that quality of serendipity: you may go looking for something specific and then find yourself drawn to objects that you would never have thought of buying. Added to that is the atmosphere which remains unchanged through the years and which is rooted in the architecture and industrial archaeology of the Regent's Canal - this area is one of a few remaining examples of Victorian London. After wandering around the stalls there is nothing better than sitting by the lock with a cool beer or, in winter, a hot chocolate watching as the barges glide along the canal.


 
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