Doffing one’s cap to Mr Dorfman…

Maurice Dorfman manned the counter of his haberdashers’ shop for 60 years until he was taken to hospital and died two months later in February, aged 87.

He left hundreds of mourning customers but no relatives, so the premises will now become a set of units.

Social documentary photographer Jim Grover was one of those regulars and took a series of evocative pictures of Maurice in the last few years of his life.

Grover has staged several acclaimed photography exhibitions in the past five years.

But Maurice was something special. Here, Jim remembers the man who ran Jeanette Fashions in 20-22 Clapham High Street and asks readers to join him in one final tribute by helping him stage the Life of Maurice Dorfman: An Exhibition – in the same shop, before it is gone forever.

On February 18, 2020, Maurice Dorfman passed away at the age of 87.

He was still resolutely opening his Clapham shop, Jeannette Fashions, as he always had done, day after day, until his illness in December 2019 resulted in him being admitted to hospital.

With no family to pass the business on to, a remarkable 60 years of trading by the Dorfman family on Clapham High Street came to an end.

It really was the end of an era for this traditional haberdashery and fabric business that so many customers had frequented over the decades.

With its weather-worn storefront signage and its time-warp interior that had seen better days, it would have been easy to walk right past the store unnoticed.

But for many locals, Jeannette Fashions and its owner held a wonderful old-world charm, that served a valuable role in the community and is still being remembered today.

On Maurice’s passing, I filled his shop window with photographs I had taken of him, as well as his very poignant woodland burial.

The response to this was extraordinary. So many passers-by stopped and reminisced with complete strangers, united by shared memories of Maurice and his family business.

The memories and emotions that Maurice’s passing triggered was inspiring.

It was just so sad that Maurice had no idea how respected, admired, and appreciated he was by so many.

I befriended Maurice as part of my 2016 photo-essay, 48 Hours on Clapham High Street and which Maurice featured in.

This exhibition will draw on a variety of resources: photographs (old and new); documents; objects; old 35mm slides and cine film of Maurice, audio recordings, as well as memories from his employees, customers, and friends.

The exhibition is planned to be staged in Maurice’s shop at 22 Clapham High Street hopefully between spring 2021 and June 2021, before it is finally converted into new units.

Those who shopped with Maurice helped him to his final resting place

The exhibition will also be reproduced online so that those who are unable to visit the exhibition in person will be able to view it online.

Here’s where I need help: I’m looking to speak to customers and employees over the decades to get their memories and stories of Maurice.

So please do get in touch if you have some anecdotes. Importantly, I’m also on a race against the clock to raise £7,700, to fund the creation and staging of this exhibition.

Do take a look at my Kickstarter campaign page and let’s hold one final, fitting tribute to Maurice, to create and stage an exhibition in celebration of one of Clapham’s most memorable characters.

If you would like to donate please go to Jim’s kickstart page at https://www.kickstarter .com/projects/lifeofmauricedorfman/the-life-of-maurice-dorfman- an-exhibition


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