Traces at Holdrons Department Store

  • Talulah Mason
  • Donna Walker
For ten days in February 2014, ‘Traces’ took over a neglected indoor arcade and took it back to the 1930s, a time when it was one of the main arcades to ‘Holdron’s department Store, and was owned by Selfridges as one of it’s provincial stores.

Working with over 60 artists and designers , Traces focused on the year 1936 when the store had it’s grand re-opening with new facade and a staircase designed by Selfridge himself; when Rye Lane was widely known as the Oxford Street of the South and when shop psychology was first being tested. This was a time when shopping was not just for women, men are invited to visit the Club Lounge for an afternoon tipple, whilst ladies meet for afternoon tea in the in store tearoom, and children could revel in the delights of Sir Henry Segraves model electric railway, the largest in Europe! It was also the year that King George V died, and King Edward VII abdicated to marry the divorcee Wallis Simpson, Oswald Mosely’s Black Shirts took on Cable Street and lost, the BBC launched its most regular public broadcast and pre-war tensions began to rise in Europe. The Traces artists and designers took all this on board when creating ‘contemporary 1930s’ work for the show.

Traces reinstated arcade display windows, a public tearoom serving 1930s refreshments, and for those who wanted to snoop that little bit more, there was a staff room area with the staffs personal lockers where you could catch up on all the behind the scenes gossip, a staff notice board and a 1930s radio broadcast on in the background. This is where forgotten stories unearthed from the archives and given to us by ex employees, (or families of), were brought back to life.