Jim Grover: BEHIND THE FACADE
Jim Grover: BEHIND THE FACADE
Local photographer Jim Grover reveals the story of a Clapham legend
Anyone familiar with Clapham’s High Street will have come across the curious and rather old-fashioned façade of Jeanette’s Fashions. The haberdashery and its colourful owner Maurice (Murray) Dorfman had been a much-loved part of the community for over 60 years.
Jim Grover first met Maurice back in 2016 and photographed him for his project, 48 Hours on Clapham High Street. When Maurice died in 2020, Jim took up his story and it is set to be revealed in his new book and exhibition, Behind the Shop Facade – The Life of Maurice Dorfman.
Jim explains: “One of my photographic passions is to shine a light on local unsung heroes. For me, Maurice is one of them… serving the local community for some 60 years on the High Street, irrespective of some formidable challenges, and in his own distinctive and endearing way that harks back to a bygone era of traditional shopkeeping and customer service.”
The journey for Jim as he uncovered the story over the course of 18 months of research was a surprising one. “I had no idea that this humble and modest shopkeeper meant so much to so many people, here in Clapham.
“This story could not have been created without countless people offering me their memories of Maurice, and their mementoes, driven by a shared desire to create a tribute to a man who had, in one way or another, made a difference to their lives.”
“It was also surprising, and comforting, in that this man in his eighties, who had lived alone in this huge building for some 30 years, had lived such a full life and had enjoyed so many pleasures along the way… girlfriends, dancing, sailing, motorbikes, camping… amongst others!”
Maurice’s family came to Clapham, via Essex, having fled the pogroms in Russia at the end of the 19th century. They started a shop on Clapham High Street – the same site that Maurice then oversaw all of his life.
Maurice never married and he died aged 86 without descendants. His store died too but he left an incredible legacy. Jim’s photos bring it all to vivid life, from the decaying storefront and incredible timecapsule interiors to all of the objects associated with haberdashery.
And, of course, pictures of Maurice, along with anecdotes – a man full of fun, and a passion for life, but also a tale of sadness too with Maurice facing cancer alone – twice, and living in a building fading around him.
One contributor to the book said: “He danced around the shop with me… playing his music. And he’d even cycle around the shop… He was a very playful character. His shop was like a theatre space and so you felt like you could go in and you could do anything there.”
The project was made possible through the support both practically and financially of many Clapham residents in tribute to Maurice and Jeannette Fashions. The show will run until 28 May, at Clapham Library.
All images © Jim Grover