With the continuing demise of most local high streets under the inexorable march of the internet shopper, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the art of window dressing would be becoming something of a lost art, in all but the finest of London retail establishments.
However, the window dresser would appear to be doing rather nicely. Recent experience would indicate that they are increasingly active in many areas of our lives, some of which we may have thought actually had no artistic, technical, legal or moral requirement for window dressing in the first place at all.
Reflect for a moment on the underlying purpose of the window dresser, as an exponent of either an art form or any other interpretation that you may care to apply, depending of course on your cultural perspective or your level of awareness or, indeed, interest.
The window dresser is charged with the outward presentation of an organisation’s view of, or statement to the world, or the appearance that it wishes to convey to the general public as we wonder along the pavement outside. The key being that we are on the outside, and “they” are on the inside. We also assume, or know, that they are privileged with a level of knowledge and purpose that we can only speculate on from viewing the output of their activity in the window display they have configured (specially) for us.
I was particularly struck by the existence of such a thriving community of window dressers while watching Henry Singer’s insightful and gripping documentary about the Baby P case on the BBC on Monday evening. A film of course is a window of sorts, and through this particular window we saw quite a number of things that we would have perhaps preferred not to have been party to.
The overall impact is enhanced by the window dresser also being imbued with an air of mystery, in that they are rarely seen, and their work is only seen in the light of day, when they have finished busying themselves while we were elsewhere, or simply distracted by other things. Consider also that if there is a risk of any early peeping on our part, various devices are usually employed to block our view while the work is polished behind a screen to optimise its eventual impact on unveiling.
In the case of Baby P programme, some of the window dressers on show would doubtless have preferred it if we had all passed by without stopping to glance in, particularly when this led to dissecting the activities of the Local Authority, National Health Service, Ofsted, or Police “players” involved, or indeed even their political masters.
If you didn’t catch it, I’d recommend a quiet hour and a half of reflection with iPlayer. Whatever the rights and wrongs of this particularly disturbing case, the courage on the part of the central players to participate in the film helped shine a fresh light on some of the murkier goings on, as presented in the media.
You can doubtless form your own view, but do watch until the very end and marvel at the work of some experienced, unseen, window dressers purveying the goods of their respective organisations. Yes, they are alive and well, just look at the rolling final credits containing crisp, concluding statements of denial and avoidance of accountability. I was left wondering who these people actually are, and whether or not they actually believe what they display in their windows.