I want this piece to be as beautiful as Andrea. As wise and as vulnerable and as intuitive about design, line, material, and desire. Andrea Louise Barrett is the woman behind Hawk Vintage, the virulently addictive local Facebook group set up as a vintage and antique mobile shop.
As I write this, I am flipping back and forth to the group page so as not to miss a post. Due to her insomnia, many of the items for sale are posted in the middle of the night and you may wake up and check the site at 7am to find that an antique chiffon bed jacket you never knew you had to have has been shamelessly dibbs’ed by some other devotee. And you vow to check in more regularly.
Started in early February, the group is a way for Barrett to finally shed a diverse collection of beautiful objects, decades in the making. The collection started when, at 9 years old, she found a 1970’s Barbie pool at a yard sale. She saw these things, discarded or undervalued, and found she could always spot the treasure amidst our ever increasing trash.
Sometimes literally, like the Holly Hobby sewing machine in perfect condition on a trip to the Gambo dump with her Grandfather. Imbued with the dictate that quality is everything, from her strong and fashionable female relatives, she continued gathering the physical art of everyday lives as she moved through school then adult life working various jobs, trying on various ways to be. But always collecting, always treasure hunting.
In her 20s, she realized she should be sharing her finds. And since then had held on to the notion of having a shop, some day. In 2014, she opened up her home as a pop-up vintage shop for a day. It went so well she operated it for three weekends. And then, last fall, like “a road that had been gradually washed away underneath [and then] suddenly collapses” she was just done.
Barrett has always identified as an artist, but not exclusively. Now she realized she “wanted to be just with the things [to] create art…[she wanted] a studio, not a showplace.” She began painting every day, and making jewelry (some from the antiques themselves).
In her particular, articulate, candour she explains, “I never knew who I was… And that is what you are seeing on the site; people I thought I might have been.” Knowing now who she is (a wearer of jeans, plain sweaters and Blundstones), and what she wants (art, peace). The group was created late one night and without realizing how quickly it would grow.
Here is how it works: Whenever she has time, she unpacks, photographs, and posts a spate of items with their prices: vintage sewing patterns one night, Italian and West German vases a few days later, vintage lots of strawberry shortcake dolls, hand knit barbie clothes the next afternoon.
Sometimes she posts teasers: a shot of a ruffle from some perfectly preserved lilac vintage party dress. A week later, a whole collection of swiss dot tea dresses and hand stitched wedding gowns will go up. You comment if you want to buy it (or try it) and she messages you to set up a time. She does a semi-regular meet up for purchase and try-ons at the Starbucks in Chapters on Kenmount Rd.
Interspersed between the sale posts are playful homages to the loveliness of objects: “Happy Wednesday!…leaving these creatures wherever I stop today…maybe you’ll find one!” under a collection of miniature Tetley Tea collectible ceramic figurines. One shown perched on a small ledge along the wall of the Starbucks.
Twice there has appeared a sort of phantom shopping cart where she documents what she would have bought at a thrift shop if she was still collecting. She may no longer be actively hunting treasures but she cannot resist handing us her maps and bidding us warm breezes.