The exterior of Jeannette Fashions

Clapham photographer raises nearly £8000 to fund exhibition honouring high street haberdasher

A Clapham photographer has raised almost £8000 to complete an exhibition honouring a haberdasher who worked on Clapham High Street for 60 years.

Haberdasher Maurice Dorfman died in February at the age of 87 and Jim Grover is set to honour him now that he has raised the exhibition money from members of the community using the website Kickstarter.

Grover, who first met Dorfman back in 2016, as part of his ’48 Hours on Clapham High Street’ project, was blown away by the public response, which saw him reach his target with nearly three weeks to spare, having set a deadline of 19th November.  

He said: “I thought that the amount we needed was ambitious, but it’s been incredible how people have rallied to the cause.

“Over 100 people have donated so far which is overwhelming and inspiring. And what’s nice is the range of sources of people. We’ve had fellow high street traders donate, people from the burial ground, old friends of his.

“And we’ve also had complete strangers who have supported the project purely because they thought it was a wonderful idea, and that was so touching.”

The project started after Dorfman’s funeral, when Grover put pictures of the burial and of Dorfman’s life in the windows of his shop, which led to people stopping in the street and sharing their memories with Grover.

The £7990 raised will allow the 62-year-old to pay for the cost of the exhibition, which includes creating the prints and staging the event, which Grover is hoping to do in Jeannette Fashions, the haberdashery that Dorfman ran for so many years.

However, Grover, who spent time with Dorfman in the last years of his life, has waived his own fee for the project, which he said he felt he ought to.

Grover added: “I’m doing this out of respect and admiration for Maurice. I have such an affection for the man, and I want to find a way to have one final tribute to him so people can celebrate his life.

“When you’ve been on the high street this long, you’re part of the community and I see this as a community celebration of this remarkable man and the way that he touched so many lives over so long.

“This shop is a wonderful time warp. But once this shop is gone, it’s gone forever. For me, the chance to assemble this exhibition so that the people of Clapham High Street can remember it is fantastic. It’s the end of the line. But there will be something that lives on.”

HONOURING: Grover and Perry outside Dorfman’s shop, which is being used to promote the exhibit

Dorfman died without a will and without any close family, meaning that the shop is likely to be sold and the building will be renovated.

Lisa Perry, 58, is an upholsterer who works out of the flat above Jeannette’s Fashions, after Dorfman rented her the space in 2016.

Perry, who has lived in Clapham for 42 years and qualified as an upholsterer in 1988, had been going into Dorfman’s shop for over 30 years, but only became close with him when she rented the space.

She said: “Maurice basically saved my life. If he hadn’t rented me his flat I wouldn’t have been able to continue working as an upholsterer in London, in this day and age it’s not possible. So I’m extremely grateful for everything Maurice gave me and in a way he’s still giving.

“He was a very kind, very generous man who was incredibly knowledgeable and honest to a fault. It was always a pleasure to come into his shop. Maurice has just been a part of my existence for so long.

“It’s sad because Maurice never knew how loved he was in the community. He’s so missed.”

Whilst Grover has raised enough money to get the exhibition going, he is still looking for people who knew Dorfman during his life to contribute to the exhibit, especially those who knew him from his time ballroom dancing on Clapham High Street.

You can find more details about the project, ‘The Life of Maurice Dorfman’, which is set to be exhibited some time in 2021, here.

And you can check out Jim’s previous work including ’48 Hours on Clapham High Street’ andCovid Tales From Tom’s Benchon his website here.

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