Barter Outlet- a pop-up exhibition
15-29Jun 2021, Piggy’s Cafe, Billingsgate Market, Trafalgar Way, London E14 5ST

a documentation of Barter Outlet, 2021

Barter Archive presents Barter Outlet, a pop-up exhibition at Piggy Cafe in the Billingsgate Fish Market, celebrating its community bonding and memories as a collective response to the market relocation in the next five years. The exhibition was an extension of the two-year-long community-led project Barter Archive constructed by the artist Pat Wingshan Wong using her observational drawings in exchange for the memorable objects of the fishmongers. These objects include disappearing porter badges, a rarely-seen shark skeleton, an invaluable lobster necklace, and many more.

Bartering activities organically and iteratively took place throughout the exhibition from 26 June to 10 July 2021. It invited the audience to exchange their memories of the market with the sketches on display. At the Open House, it engaged with a wide range of activities designed together by the artist and the fishmongers.

The pop-up exhibition brings different personalities of the fishmongers into a space, showcasing the multiple voices and diverse cultures within the market. Transforming the working space into an exhibition with performances, the artist sees the performance as part of their lives in the market instead of a tourist checkpoint. It invites the public to contemplate the significance of the space and work together to create narratives at the intersection of events and documents. While restaging the tradition of the market and recalling its collective memory, the exhibition also explores the relationships between the artist and the fishmongers as well as the public.

Get the fish ready! – Selfie with ‘Sammy the seal’ & video
*Bang bang bang!* on the side of the dock – Here comes Sammy! Do you miss Sammy the seal? Well cheeky Sammy is back again for just one morning at Piggy Cafe. Just get your salmon ready for a selfie with Sammy at the photobooth. No salmon no deal! Sammy the seal was a beloved icon of the Billingsgate Fish Market, but she disappeared from the dock in the last six years. Check out Pat’s interview with Sammy and find out why she left despite being fed the finest salmon in the market by the fishmongers.

Fastest Fish Cutter in the Billingsgate Fish Market
‘I am!’ Follow Pat’s detective work as she looks for the fastest fish cutter in the market amongst the fishmongers. Who do you think is the fastest slice in Billingsgate? Keep watching to find out!

Barter Outlet Catalog

The bartering activities are moments of collective meaning-making. Bringing the sketches, activities and histories together, and presenting them to an audience that never encounters them in a public setting, the exhibition makes the cafe a site for open discussions, raising the awareness of the impact of capitalism on society amid rapid urban development.

The cafe, as a community hub, is where the artist starts to meet people through her sketches, thus opening up conversation with the fishmongers. The exhibition engages with the fishmongers’ language, for example, barter and banter, and initiates a series of encounters and discussions at the cafe. The exhibition is a collaborative process, which incorporates the fishmongers’ concerns about how collective memory could be transformed and presented to the public, shifting the emphasis from the artist’s work to realising the impact that a community has on the way we live. 

Barter Roadshow: A conversation with Richard Martin and Michael Eglin, the fishmonger of the Billingsgate Fish Market
A virtual tour of the ‘Barter Outlet’ exhibition at Billingsgate, followed by a panel discussion with guest speakers: Michael Eglin, fishmonger & owner of James Nash & Son, Richard Martin, Daskalopoulos Director of Education & Public Programmes at Whitechapel Gallery and Jessie Brennan, Visiting Tutor at Royal College of Art to bring different perspectives and voices towards this community-led project.