‘Wonderment’. A word more frequently assimilated with how a child will react to something for the first time. An amalgamation of astonishment, disbelief, simplicity and reverence, it is something that somehow fades into obscurity as we grow up and fall into a state of conformity. We buy from the same shops that mass produce and fail to realize that nothing is unique anymore and slowly the differentiation lines between us are becoming indecipherable. We are, in essence, very much in constant danger of losing our ‘souls’. My favorite objects as a child were not toys but the items inside my small tin treasure chest, ‘found stuff ‘, – fools gold from the Isle of White, a lock of my baby hair, pebbles with natural holes in them, skimming stones, shells galore, my very first love letter, broken bits of fossils found on a beach, and countless sugar sachets and paper napkins from various holidays. And every once in a while I would sit on the floor and place them all around me knowing that each item represented a piece of me, like a piece to a jigsaw puzzle, and that looking at them there all together brought me some immense feeling of fulfillment and clarity. It must have happened when I was moving house, but along the way I seem to have lost my little treasure box and still today I get very cross when I remind myself of this. I have attempted to start a new one, but it is a half-hearted collection for the grown-up version lacks somewhat in innocence. Bored with the fact that every high street now looks the same, I was almost giving up to the idea of a shop or place that spawned those same feelings of wonderment that I frequently had as a child. Until now that is.
Set up as a ‘pataphysical organization’, The Last Tuesday Society commits itself to scrutinizing the abstract, arcane and mysterious aspects of literature and art within London and beyond. With its first solid base established on Mare Street, Hackney, in 2009, the shop/gallery/museum models itself on the 17th century ‘wunderkammer’ (wonder-room) or curiosity cabinet. Objects of these cabinets are undefined but range from natural history, geology, ethnography, and archaeology to religious or historical relics. The group is currently headed by its ‘chancellor’, Viktor Wynd, and ‘tribune’, Suzette Field, and on arrival I am cordially greeted by the ‘majordomo’, Patrick Knill and ‘fellow of the society’, Daniel Fitzgerald. Carefully contemplating the manual for a broken slide projector, Patrick sits amongst a riotous, rainbow-array of framed butterflies, peacock feathers, gargantuan shells, stacks of books and edible anus chocolates. I’m already in danger of developing whiplash, not knowing what to look at first. Patrick chuckles quietly to himself, “…just you wait till you get down those stairs”. Down ‘those stairs’ inhabits Viktor Wynd’s brainchild ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’ and it’s more than fair to say that you have never seen anything like it before or will do ever again.
From the dark, infernal crevices you get glinting hints of bones, feathers, teeth, bottles, surgical instruments and specimen jars. I must have circum-navigated the two adjoining rooms at least five times and at each juncture picking up on things I had not seen on my previous circuit, – a gimp mask amongst antlers, children’s wind-up toys, Asmat ancestral skulls, Dayak trophy skulls, various shrunken heads, antique pornographic prints, massive Coco de Mer seeds, jars of celebrity poo (today we have deposits from Kylie Minogue and Amy Winehouse), ‘De Luxe’ transexual playing cards, an x-ray of conjoined twins, a crucified baby’s heart (I kid you not), small pecker condoms (protection for the little guy), flying cats, two-headed teddy bears, ‘The Cunt Colouring Book’ and the longest standing erect penis in history (cut from the body of a man hanged in the 18th century), whilst the shelf above displays such volumes as ‘Joyful Lays’ by Rev.R.Lowry and W.Howard Doane, ‘Girls of the Pansy Patrol’ by May Wynne, Enid Blyton’s ‘Gay Story Book’, or ‘If you want Closure in Your Relationship Start with You Legs’ and the indispensable ‘What to Say When You Talk to Yourself’. It’s only after heedful inspection that you become aware of Viktor’s wicked sense of humor coming through when you notice that all the taxidermy are either mid-fornication or playing cruel allegorical games with each other. One case titles itself ‘The Thieving Weasel’ and we see a skeletal weasel lying on the floor having been punished by two others. Offering amazement and repulsion within the same breath of air, it’s wonderful to see that Viktor and his associates know exactly how to pull you in and push you away in one singular swoop. Talking me through the awe-inspiring collection of skulls, Daniel claims that he himself doesn’t even know how half the things on show are able to be here. “Loopholes…”, he eventually shrugs it off with.
A space so specifically and personally evolved, it seems a plus to think that any one of these items could be yours. And as yet, it remains the best tonic for those suffering from the ‘Habitat’ headache or the ‘Ikea’ irritation.
The Last Tuesday Society – 11 Mare Street London E8 4RP
Opening Hours –
Wednesday to Saturday – 12 to 7pm
Sunday – 11 to 6pm
(Admission to the Curiosity Museum is £2/£1 concession)