A touching documentary has been released which pays tribute to a late shop owner in Mortlake.

Chiswick-based filmmaker, Mark Forbes, created ‘Memories of Mortlake’ to capture the poignant history of an antique shop and its owner in West London.

The 11-minute film features the life of 87-year-old Elke Crowther, from Germany, who sadly passed away in May 2021.

A stalwart of the high street, Elke traded from 134 Upper Richmond Road West, London for over 60 years.

Her vintage shop reflected a rich history, with every shelf and surface piled high with collections of buttons, lace, ribbon, beads and fabric.

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Memories of Mortlake film poster.Memories of Mortlake film poster.

But Mark’s film expresses a nostalgic side, covering the demise of the local high street and artisan sellers in the wake of mass-made clothes.

Elke admits that it was only possible to keep her doors open because she owned the freehold to her building.

Interwoven with archive and current footage, ‘Memories of Mortlake’ also touches upon the pandemic, and the related feelings of social isolation.

“It affected Elke, but she was resilient and strong. At 87-years-old, she brushed it aside, probably because she had already survived World War 2 Germany,” said Mark.

The filmmaker’s life was also shaken by coronavirus, as at the beginning of 2020 he lost his job as an audio-visual specialist at 20th Century Fox.

For the self-taught director, the best way to deal with being out of work was to throw himself into creating a new film.

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Mark Forbes, director of Memories of Mortlake.Mark Forbes, director of Memories of Mortlake.

After wrapping Memories of Mortlake at the end of 2020, he entered as many film festivals as possible, and couldn’t believe it when acceptance letters rolled in throughout the spring.

Nearly every festival accepted Memories of Mortlake, including Barnes Film Festival, which screened and discovered the documentary.

“It’s a story close to my heart, a real local shop and local film,” said Mark.

“Elke acted as a grandmother figure to me. I was introduced to her by my girlfriend who is half German, who urged me to see her shop.

“I was fascinated by the way she coped with loneliness, by using the shop as a way to connect to people on the street.”

Elke passed away in May 2021, but Mark said it was a “beautiful” and “emotional” privilege that she got to see the film first.

He hopes that for the shopkeeper’s family it is not just memories of Mortlake that are left, but of Elke too.