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).
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.
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.
Out now from Tirgearr Publishing, the lastest from my fevered imagination — it’s sort of Mark Twain meets Elmore Leonard with a twist of spooky weirdness neither of those gentlemen would probably welcome, but Joe Lansdale might. My head has its own weird ways.
Dead folk are just about the last thing you want to see while wandering through the deserts of the great wild West. Things get a whole lot worse if they’re not the lying down kind of dead but the running around trying to take a bite out of you sort. Whatever’s got the corpses jumping is bound to spell a bad day for anyone unlucky enough to ride into town.
It’s a novella so you can read it in one day if you’re of a mind to do so. And when you do, be sure to leave me a review.
Here’s a bit of me reading from near the start, but after the first incident. I like the voice of Finn, the narrator — another in a growing line of characters who are less smart than the people around them (like his riding partner, Jim). We all feel that way sometimes, right?
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Remember, remember — fireworks tonight. Up in the northern isles they may just go with the Aurora Borealis
Skaill House where the folks who discovered Skara Brae lived.
A harsh but beautiful location on the bay.
Even in the off season, there’s a beauty in the formal(ish) garden.
The high-backed chair to guard from those pernicious drafts.
Most of the stuff in this house was the fancy frou-frou I’m not particularly fond of, but they did have Capt Cook’s china in the cabinet of the formal dining room.
A library! Now that’s more like it.
A Norse calendar stick with runes.
What’s a library without a hidden compartment?
…and a fancy window?
Ah, the explorer’s room.
The bishop’s bed when he lived here in the 16th century; there’s a small reproduction of St Magnus’ Cathedral in the room which I forgot to take a picture of.
Not *that* John Peel. I think.
The laird of the house received the order of St Magnus from King Olaf himself.
Here’s his formal wear.
The cattle seem to thrive in the blustery conditions.
Our lodgings with the Harray Potter, where Amy was apprenticing, were a bit simpler but more comfortable. Nice pottery, too!
Like Austen heroines, we were diligent in our correspondence.
I am eager to go back to Orkney. It’s quite a striking place. The people who choose to live there are extraordinary. In the meantime, I’m NaNo-ing and getting ready to head south for the Weird Conference on Wednesday, where I’ll talk about Weird Noir. The days are just packed.
By the time this posts, I should be in Glasgow for the Graphic Novel/BD conference. I hope to meet up with folks I know and folks I don’t yet know at the conference, and with some of my on-line friends who live in town. With luck I’ll get around to some galleries or museums as well. Glasgow is quite the arts centre.
I expect the conference will keep me busy; given the nature of things, I’ll probably be tweeting more than Facebooking, so look for me there. I understand the hashtag is #ScotlandComics13 (I’m saying this in part so I can remember it).
To keep you entertained, I suggest checking out the Noir Carnival Jukebox. Let me know what I should add to it.