Pearly Kings and Queens, known as Pearlies, are an organised charitable tradition of working class culture in London, England. The practice of wearing clothes decorated with mother-of-pearl buttons was first associated with Henry Croft (1861-1930), an orphan street sweeper who collected money for charity. At the time, London costermongers (street traders) were in the habit of wearing trousers decorated at the seams with pearl buttons that had been found by market traders. In the late 1870s, Croft adapted this to create a pearly suit to draw attention to himself and aid his fund-raising activities. In 1911 an organised Pearly Society was formed in Finchley, north London.
I chose this as a subject because it defines my experience of London’s East End as I remember seeing these characters roaming the streets Brick Lane when I was a child. One Sunday morning market day I struck up a conversation with one of them on Brick Lane, and was captivated by these characters and felt the desire to draw them.
In this work I have used ink and watercolour with silver to represent the embellishments of buttons.
Pearly Queen h 30cm x w 21cm
£250 (contact email@example.com )