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VM inspiration: the traditional funfair

Whitstable in Kent celebrated its 222nd regatta recently. The event included an annual funfair, which materialises on Tankerton Slopes, a grassy strip incongruously adjacent to the grey and soporific Thames estuary, for just two days each year.

This mix of classic and contemporary fairground provides plenty of inspiration for visual merchandising (VM). The combination of Meccano-like scaffolding and coloured light bulbs are enough to suggest a fairground. Add bold graphics and stylised clip-art style motifs for good measure.

This classic image of pink fluff pegged to a scalloped awning, set against a stripy ground could have escaped from any VM theme.

The traditional carousel is a classic for VM inspiration. I loved the red, green, and ochre pattern created by this stripy awning seen behind neatly painted wooden struts, each with a Victorian flourish, and the gold twisted poles supporting each horse. Great for a VM backdrop.

Behind the carousel horses is a row of equally resplendent cockerels, and behind them a lovely Victorian hotel with its wooden balcony intact.

Moving on from the classic fairground to a more contemporary one, this image might have been designed for VM display. Imagine a diminutive version as the fixture for handbags, the occasional scarf tied to a metal swing chair, or a miniature version arrayed with jewellery.

This image of the dodgems is a classic. The pale grey-blue horizon in the distance conveys the super-stillness of Hyperrealist painters and Photorealist photographers, such as Ralph Goings and John Baeder, that we often see in perfect store windows. The cars’ shiny perfection is belied by their scuffed bumpers but, nevertheless, Jean Baudrillard would recognize their shiny simulacra.

Similarly, the car on this children’s ride faintly resembles that from Enid Blyton’s Noddy stories, yet with the spare styling of the post-modern.

Embracing popular culture, this ‘hook a duck’ stall is a beautiful cacophony of beach toys, with immaculate graphics.

Lastly, as lions are somewhat topical at the moment, I wondered if ‘lion food’ took the form of American dentists?

Photographs: Matthew Valentine