Viktor Wynd’s Wunderkabinett

The last time I was at the Last Tuesday Society it was to attend a night featuring tales of ghost trains and the music of Sarah Angliss. I got to play her theremin, which was enough of a thrill that I finally did have to get my own theremin. I also wrote down the phrase ‘luminiferous ether’ which led to my writing White Rabbit (in concert with a lot of other strange head explosions).

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I had not visited the Viktor Wynd museum, however. Drawn by the occult theme of the week, I decided I really needed to see its ‘largest collection’ of Austin Osman Spare works on public display. The south London artist has long occupied that strange niche between occult and art, cultish devotion and imperious neglect, which makes it difficult to see more than isolated pieces at any one time (cf. the Language of Birds exhibit).

Crowded into the back room of the establishment are indeed several works by the artist which are difficult to get a good look at both due to the lighting and the profusion of other curiosities about (thus the poor pictures here). It would be great to have a proper exhibit that allowed better access, of course. Yet I’m grateful nonetheless for the opportunity to see these. Handily, they had copies of Phil Baker’s bio of the artist for sale so I picked one up.

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The museum itself is a mad jumble of nigh-on Victorian gloom, down a vertigo-inducing spiral stair, full of beasts, freaks, monsters, dandies, dead things, a little occult & magic, and some pulps. The dandies include not only Stephen Tennant‘s ephemera but also Sebastian Horsley‘s red sequined Savile Row suit. There are lots of skulls and bones, fossilised things, an ‘alchemists toolkit’ and all manner of weird and interesting curiosities crammed into a very tiny couple of rooms. It’s all a bit overwhelming. You can’t possibly take it all in in just one visit. So if you’re in Hackney or need an excuse to be, you should drop by.

Bloody Scotland / Bouchercon

bloodyscotI’m going to be on the road a lot the next few weeks. Saturday I head off to Bloody Scotland — alas, only for the day — and then Tuesday I’m Stateside bound, back to NY for a few weeks to see my pals and enjoy Bouchercon. I’ll apologize in advance because I know I won’t see everybody while I’m in NY (sorry!) but I hope to see as many of you as I can. Maybe I can talk Bertie into us giving a housewarming party…!

As much for myself (so I can find it later) as for anyone who wants to catch up, here’s my planned activities at the cons so far:

BLOODY SCOTLAND

Dark Deeds: Louise Welsh & Denise Mina
10:30 AM – Albert Halls

Picture This: Denise Mina
2:00 PM – Academy Suite

Keeping Secrets: Charles Cumming & Chris Morgan Jones
3:30PM – McLaren Suite

The Great, The Good and The Gory: Stuart McBride & Val McDermid
5:00 PM – Albert Halls

Thrilling Tales & Psychological Twists: Zoë Sharp & Julia Crouch
6:30 PM – McLaren Suite

BOUCHERCON

Programming Schedule/Authors Choice Schedule

Mavens of Mayhem Bouchercon/SinC Reception
Wed 6:00 PM – Book House, Stuyvesant Plaza

Pre-Bouchercon Get Together
Wed 8:00 PM – City Beer Hall

Close to the Borderline: Pulp fiction, baby!
Les Edgerton, Frank DeBlase, Jack Getze, K. A. Laity, Howard Owen, Josh Stallings
Thu 1:20-2:15 – Room 3

Sisters in Crime Breakfast
Fri 7:30 AM – 74 State

Weird Noir Carnival: Fox Spirit Books
K. A. Laity, Jan Kozlowski & Chris L. Irvin
Fri 1:30-2:00 – Room 5

This is just the *I have to be there* events. I haven’t looked through the schedule and I know a lot of pals are on panels, so I will sort that. In general I’ll probably be found at most panels labeled “noir” or ones featuring my fave writers. Please let me know where you’ll be or if you see something I won’t want to miss, point it out to me! There’s so much going on. When in doubt, look for Chastity Flame!

Chas 3 X 3 PC web