“PEOPLE really do enjoy coming to Beaminster and I’m constantly hearing feedback that suggests that Beaminster is the buzz town of West Dorset and certainly this region. It’s good. It’s exciting.”
So says Deborah (‘Debs’) Moxhay, owner of Strummer Pink. For anyone who’s known Beaminster for a while, the idea of it being “the buzz town” of anywhere seems incredible, so incredible that actually it might just be true.
After all, this “classic Wessex market town” was recently picked out in The Sunday Times as somewhere that was “fast becoming a food hotspot”, partly because of Masterchef winner Mat Follas and his restaurant The Wild Garlic. Now, just five doors down from there, comes Strummer Pink.
Colour? Shop? Business? Brand? Homage to Clash singer Joe Strummer? Mini arts-centre? Lurcher?
All these and more, just about. Joe Strummer died the day before Debs picked up her dog as a puppy, and the breeder, a Clash fan, was in tears. So, Debs’ dog is called Strummer… and Strummer Pink is the name that is going to be painted outside Debs’ new venture, one day.
The shop is West Country Interiors as was, where Debs worked before for about five years.
“I’m quite a people person, I get attracted by people and so I tend to think ‘Oh, I like that, what are they doing over there, how can I get involved in that?’ and then it just happens… Nothing particularly has ever been planned – so here we are!
“I’ve lived in West Dorset for about 12 years, and when I got here I realised that it actually said on my birth certificate that I was born here, which I’d sort of forgotten about. It was quite a surprise…
“West Dorset is like coming home, I just love it so much, the landscape and the people, and the fact that you always find interesting things and people down at the end of a track, and nobody really talks about it that much, except, extraordinary things happen…
“I’ve been lucky enough to work with interesting people and I now run my own venture which is really exciting.”
She pinpoints the mix of people in West Dorset as a key economic driver. “I think there’s a lot of really interesting people that have landed in West Dorset and people that have gone away and had a life and done interesting things and they’ve come back here and people are interested and they are looking for things that are a little bit different and why not give it to them? It’s just something’s unusual.
“I’m also in the New Year wanting to start some classes, use it as a venue for meditation, yoga, life drawing, linocuts, things like that, just to get people in, and that will be a really nice base, I hope, for the people of Beaminster to come in and use. It will be more like an arts centre, although not, because of its size, but that’s the idea, to make it more interesting for people.”
Until November 28 Strummer Pink is exhibiting artworks by Aviva Halter-Hurn and her father Roman. Aviva is now best known locally for her pictures of birds and animals but this show also includes some fine earlier work in a different style, such as Insomniac.
NOTE: my own pet theory is that Strummer Pink is a sign of a wider cultural shift in West Dorset. The Times recently described Bridport as “very civilised… intellectual and rather hippyish” but I think the far west of the county is ceasing to be as hippyish as it once undoubtedly was in favour of becoming post-punk. Or is this wishful thinking?