Outside looking in
Now if you live in Beeston, and travel up and down Chilwell High Road regularly, you might already know what I am talking about by the title alone. In one of the terraces along there, lives an inhabitant of our little town who continually treats us to a selection of stylish window displays that bring joy to the faces of many who pass by.
I have often wanted to explore who this mystery window dresser is and the reasons why they make the time to do this.
As an enthusiastic supporter of any community art project, I posted a card through the letter box to ask if they would like to chat to me about it and was thrilled when I got a response. A lady called Fran sent me a text to thank me for my kind comments and to give her a call. When I spoke to her I realised that we already knew each other, via the close community that is Beeston café culture, and we chatted for ages about many things but mostly her motivation to cheer up her little bit of Beeston.
Fran has been creating her wonderful exhibitions for over ten years now and it all started when she was working at the high street retailer, Accessorize. Often when they took down their window display the staff were left with a selection of useless but pretty objects that would gather dust in a box or get thrown away. Inspired by the impact a well-dressed window can have on passers-by, she decided that she would much prefer to take things home and create her own version of the display in her front window at home. And so it began…
She regularly receives thank you cards and messages of appreciation from local people
She finds her inspiration in many places and her magpie’s nest is full to the rafters with bright, shiny objects and other things saved for their aesthetic qualities. She tries to update the window regularly, usually in line with calendar events and the seasons and can often feel the pressure to make sure she hasn’t left a display in too long – she doesn’t want to disappoint her fan club. Fran tells me that she regularly receives thank you cards and messages of appreciation from local people and this makes it all the more worthwhile. She does it simply ‘because it makes people smile’, and by her own admission ‘keeps her out of mischief.’
Fran has a great eye for detail and her presentations have got more ambitious over the years. It is fun, and she enjoys thinking up new ideas, careful not to replicate any she has done previously. What I like about them is the connection with local people that Fran is making with these displays, and it goes deeper than just making someone’s day. She is investing in her community, showing a sense of pride in where she lives and is more than happy to hear that she is beginning to inspire others to do the same.
And it was simply this that prompted me to publicly applaud the efforts of this dedicated decorator, who tirelessly creates these scenes for others to enjoy. Fran, we think you are awesome!
I wonder what will she do next…?
Beeston is full to the brim with creativity if you look for it.