300 years ago, St James's Market was a bustling place lined with butchers, bakers and merchants. A new installation by placemaking specialists dn&co explores the rich history of this area through the retelling of a bawdy ballad written during the market's heyday, featuring illustrations by James Graham and narrated by Stephen Fry.
The exhibition pavilion, designed by architects Studio Weave, takes the form of an immersive cabinet of curiosities in which the narrative of the ballad and the market unfolds. Each of the 176 cabinets presents one part of the story through a vignette made from laser-cut illustrations, inspired by Victorian paper theatre. The Handsome Butcher of St James’s Market is part of the Broadside Ballad tradition, illustrated large-format ballad sheets that were mass produced and sold cheaply throughout London. As this poem takes place in St James’s Market, it is assumed it would have been sold in St James’s Market, now retold centuries later on the very same site.
The St James’s Market Pavilion is part of a series of public artworks within the new landmark development in St James's, and has been commissioned by The Crown Estate and Oxford Properties in collaboration with cultural consultancy Futurecity.