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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Beautiful freaks: The Last Tuesday Society

The Last Tuesday Society is a mind-boggling cornucopia of all things beautiful and grotesque – and sometimes both. We visited the museum, shop and gallery and were completely mesmerised by what we found.

Written by Jessica Furseth

topshop riot by kellie black
UKuncut Topshop-police amelia gregory
Topshop, this with your welcoming entrance you are spoiling us…

If you are on twitter you will probably have noticed the mutterings of the #UKuncut hashtag – from small beginnings it has grown to become the standard bearer of the cuts demonstrations. And to think it all started only a few weeks back, generic when I got a frantic phone call from one of my friends on the first UK Uncut Vodafone demo. “We’ve got a trending hashtag” he exclaimed somewhat maniacally. “but we’ve misspelled Vodaphone, viagra you’ve got to help us!!” I assured him that a quick glance at twitter confirmed that he didn’t need my twittering powers one iota. And frankly I think it’s Vodafone who’ve got their spelling wrong. Now, thousands of people follow the @UKuncut twitter feed and the #UKuncut hashtag stream is used to communicate between anti-cuts protests up and down the country. Makes you dead proud of your mates it does.

UKUncut by Avril Kelly
UKUncut by Avril Kelly.

I didn’t manage to get along to that first demo due to my head being buried in the creation of my new book, but I have been avidly following the progress of the cuts protests. And when I heard about the next major target for UK Uncut I was most excited: the Topshop flagship store in Oxford Circus. Regular readers of this blog will no doubt be able to guess that I am not exactly a big fan of Topshop – I know too many small designers who have been ripped off, they have an atrocious human rights record, and I find the association with Kate Moss frankly tedious. Suffice to say I won’t be covering any Topshop collections in Amelia’s Magazine in the near future.

UK uncut sinister pics
Photograph by Sinister Pictures.

Instead, I hope to be joining more protests. Why? Well, a while ago the papers exposed Sir Philip Green‘s cunning tax avoidance trick that enables him to siphon vast profits out of the country and safely into the hands of his Monaco dwelling wife. There was a surge of interest and then the news disappeared. But the cunning folks at UK Uncut have decided to resurrect the gripe. Why? For the simple reason that this country is in the grip of savage cuts to almost everything imaginable. And yet the very rich are able to take our money out of the country: it is the very reverse of the ethos behind the resurgence of local currencies triumphed by Transition Towns. If you use the Brixton Pound in Brixton it enables local money to stay in a local area, enriching the lives of everyone who partakes in the local economy. If you use your pounds in Topshop they leak straight out of the UK, benefiting none of us at all.

Pay your Taxes Ross McEwan
Illustration by Ross McEwan.

Why is it that the richer people get the more greedy they become? Surely once you’ve earnt your first billion there’s little reason to keep chasing more? But no, the super rich, chums of our millionaire Con-Dem cabinet (Philip Green has the audacity to advise on austerity measures) together avoid £25 billion in tax by removing it from the country. One argument says that if the UK was to make it less amenable for large businesses to run their services here they would simply take them elsewhere. I fail to see the logic in this: Philip Green runs a British company, Topshop. He isn’t about to pack up and ship it over to Dubai never to be seen again, is he?

So it was that on a cold Saturday morning I jumped out of bed and sped into the centre of town. I missed the first noisy influx into the store by a few minutes and the main entrance was already blocked by security. However, although I very rarely get sucked into Topshop these days, I know well that there are several entrances so I zipped straight in via the side door.

UK_UncutTopshop2_byAlisonDay
UK Uncut Topshop Protest by Alison Day.

Inside about thirty protestors were already staging a sit in, chanting as bemused shoppers gazed on, uncertain what to do. They were a mix bunch from different movements, including climate activists and peeved students. “Philip’s Green’s taxation could pay for our education” was but one of many clever chants I heard.

UKuncut Topshop-amelia gregory

Within moments I was hustled straight back out the main entrance due to my very large camera, but I just went right back around and came back in with my iphone camera instead. Eventually I heard these magical words over the tanoy system: There has been an incident: please exit the store immediately. And so it was that we were able to close down the main branch of Topshop for well over an hour on a busy Saturday in the run up to Christmas. The sour faces of thwarted shoppers peered down at us as the streets got busier, but most of them seemed fairly content to visit Urban Outfitters next door instead. A gaggle of protestors then spread up and down Oxford Street, shutting Dorothy Perkins and BHS (both also part of Philip Green’s Arcadia empire) and revisiting Vodafone. In fact, just the threat of our arrival was enough to close most stores before we even got to them.

UK Uncut sinister pictures
Outside BHS. Photograph by Sinister Pictures.

As I was twittering through the protest I received a reply from a small fashion brand that has a concession in Topshop – But what about the independent labels that are losing business? – she said. I do think that if you get into bed with a corporate brand you can expect to experience the pitfalls as well as the bonuses, but our quibbles are obviously not with the independent designers who stock Topshop (and at any rate in this case she definitely supported us) or the workers in the store, who may well have lost income if we had blocked the entrances more effectively and they had been told to go home.

Abi Daker - Topshop protest 2010
One Woman Topshop protest 2010 by Abigail Daker.

Of course it is very hard to protest without some unwanted fallout, which is why I so love this inspiring one woman protest: whilst we were causing mayhem at Oxford Circus Bryony went along to her local Wandsworth Topshop equipped only with flyers and chocolate, and on the purchase of a Breton top politely explained that she would not be able to pay the VAT because she didn’t trust Philip Green to give it the HMRC. She handed out information to the other customers and chocolates to the confused employees as they tried to accommodate her request by calling head office. What a clever way to raise awareness in a totally calm and collected manner, but the real success has been in the telling of the story – which has been bouncing around on the #UKuncut hashtag, attracting glowing comments from others who may well be inspired to do the same.

UKuncut Topshop-amelia gregory outside

For naturally this story is far from over: the students are still revolting on the streets and UK Uncut have announced yet another day of action: this time I urge you to join them and protest against the greedy fat cat billionaires who are currently free to move the money we spend on their products out of this country and away from where it might be put to good use. On Saturday 18th December Topshop and Vodafone will be targeted in high streets across the UK. Find out all the details here.

UKuncut Topshop-police amelia gregory
Topshop, order with your welcoming entrance you are spoiling us…

If you are on twitter you will probably have noticed the mutterings of the #UKuncut hashtag – from small beginnings it has grown to become the standard bearer of the cuts demonstrations. And to think it all started only a few weeks back, when I got a frantic phone call from one of my friends on the first UK Uncut Vodafone demo. “We’ve got a trending hashtag” he exclaimed somewhat maniacally. “but we’ve misspelled Vodaphone, you’ve got to help us!!” I assured him that a quick glance at twitter confirmed that he didn’t need my twittering powers one iota. And frankly I think it’s Vodafone who’ve got their spelling wrong. Now, thousands of people follow the @UKuncut twitter feed and the #UKuncut hashtag stream is used to communicate between anti-cuts protests up and down the country. Makes you dead proud of your mates it does.

UKUncut by Avril Kelly
UKUncut by Avril Kelly.

I didn’t manage to get along to that first demo due to my head being buried in the creation of my new book, but I have been avidly following the progress of the cuts protests. And when I heard about the next major target for UK Uncut I was most excited: the Topshop flagship store in Oxford Circus. Regular readers of this blog will no doubt be able to guess that I am not exactly a big fan of Topshop – I know too many small designers who have been ripped off, they have an atrocious human rights record, and I find the association with Kate Moss frankly tedious. Suffice to say I won’t be covering any Topshop collections in Amelia’s Magazine in the near future.

UK uncut sinister pics
Photograph by Sinister Pictures.

Instead, I hope to be joining more protests. Why? Well, a while ago the papers exposed Sir Philip Green‘s cunning tax avoidance trick that enables him to siphon vast profits out of the country and safely into the hands of his Monaco dwelling wife. There was a surge of interest and then the news disappeared. But the cunning folks at UK Uncut have decided to resurrect the gripe. Why? For the simple reason that this country is in the grip of savage cuts to almost everything imaginable. And yet the very rich are able to take our money out of the country: it is the very reverse of the ethos behind the resurgence of local currencies triumphed by Transition Towns. If you use the Brixton Pound in Brixton it enables local money to stay in a local area, enriching the lives of everyone who partakes in the local economy. If you use your pounds in Topshop they leak straight out of the UK, benefiting none of us at all.

Pay your Taxes Ross McEwan
Illustration by Ross McEwan.

Why is it that the richer people get the more greedy they become? Surely once you’ve earnt your first billion there’s little reason to keep chasing more? But no, the super rich, chums of our millionaire Con-Dem cabinet (Philip Green has the audacity to advise on austerity measures) together avoid £25 billion in tax by removing it from the country. One argument says that if the UK was to make it less amenable for large businesses to run their services here they would simply take them elsewhere. I fail to see the logic in this: Philip Green runs a British company, Topshop. He isn’t about to pack up and ship it over to Dubai never to be seen again, is he?

topshop riot by kellie black
Topshop protest by Kellie Black.

So it was that on a cold Saturday morning I jumped out of bed and sped into the centre of town. I missed the first noisy influx into the store by a few minutes and the main entrance was already blocked by security. However, although I very rarely get sucked into Topshop these days, I know well that there are several entrances so I zipped straight in via the side door.

UK_UncutTopshop2_byAlisonDay
UK Uncut Topshop Protest by Alison Day.

Inside about thirty protestors were already staging a sit in, chanting as bemused shoppers gazed on, uncertain what to do. They were a mix bunch from different movements, including climate activists and peeved students. “Philip’s Green’s taxation could pay for our education” was but one of many clever chants I heard.

UKuncut Topshop-amelia gregory

Within moments I was hustled straight back out the main entrance due to my very large camera, but I just went right back around and came back in with my iphone camera instead. Eventually I heard these magical words over the tanoy system: There has been an incident: please exit the store immediately. And so it was that we were able to close down the main branch of Topshop for well over an hour on a busy Saturday in the run up to Christmas. The sour faces of thwarted shoppers peered down at us as the streets got busier, but most of them seemed fairly content to visit Urban Outfitters next door instead. A gaggle of protestors then spread up and down Oxford Street, shutting Dorothy Perkins and BHS (both also part of Philip Green’s Arcadia empire) and revisiting Vodafone. In fact, just the threat of our arrival was enough to close most stores before we even got to them.

UK Uncut sinister pictures
Outside BHS. Photograph by Sinister Pictures.

As I was twittering through the protest I received a reply from a small fashion brand that has a concession in Topshop – But what about the independent labels that are losing business? – she said. I do think that if you get into bed with a corporate brand you can expect to experience the pitfalls as well as the bonuses, but our quibbles are obviously not with the independent designers who stock Topshop (and at any rate in this case she definitely supported us) or the workers in the store, who may well have lost income if we had blocked the entrances more effectively and they had been told to go home.

Abi Daker - Topshop protest 2010
One Woman Topshop protest 2010 by Abigail Daker.

Of course it is very hard to protest without some unwanted fallout, which is why I so love this inspiring one woman protest: whilst we were causing mayhem at Oxford Circus Bryony went along to her local Wandsworth Topshop equipped only with flyers and chocolate, and on the purchase of a Breton top politely explained that she would not be able to pay the VAT because she didn’t trust Philip Green to give it the HMRC. She handed out information to the other customers and chocolates to the confused employees as they tried to accommodate her request by calling head office. What a clever way to raise awareness in a totally calm and collected manner, but the real success has been in the telling of the story – which has been bouncing around on the #UKuncut hashtag, attracting glowing comments from others who may well be inspired to do the same.

UKuncut Topshop-amelia gregory outside

For naturally this story is far from over: the students are still revolting on the streets and UK Uncut have announced yet another day of action: this time I urge you to join them and protest against the greedy fat cat billionaires who are currently free to move the money we spend on their products out of this country and away from where it might be put to good use. On Saturday 18th December Topshop and Vodafone will be targeted in high streets across the UK. Find out all the details here.


Royal Birds by Lynn Hatzius. All images courtesy of Viktor Wynd Fine Art Inc.

There is no way to really describe what goes on at The Last Tuesday Society, help it simply has to be seen. In a word: it is spectacular. It beggars belief. You end up just LOOKING, overwhelmed by all this weird and wonderful stuff, no idea why you like it – only that you do.

I actually went to The Last Tuesday Society to see ‘Beasts Royal’, the art exhibition running until 8th January at the adjacent Victor Wynd Fine Art gallery – and I’ll get to that in a minute. But this place … ! When later that night I told a friend how amazing it was, she just looked horrified – because there’s a lot of taxidermy. Dead, stuffed animals feature heavily. But this is why this place needs to be seen, because there is something incredible and spell-binding about it. I don’t know, maybe I’m the odd one for not finding the silent, staring animals horrifying. After all, I was raised by people who thought nothing of letting their five-year-old help scraping meat off the elk bones after the annual hunt. (‘That’s right darling, toss it in the mince bucket.’)


Bowerbird by Natasha Chambers

So what IS all this wonderful stuff then? Well, there are butterflies. And lots of prints and pictures. Animal skeletons, and some old human skulls which look real. It’s a little bit like the Sir John Soane’s museum in Holborn, but it’s more random than that. There is a pack of playing cards with naked transsexuals, a golliwog orchestra, rusty keys, seashells, toys and two-headed cuddly bears. There are books too: ‘Dial “O” for Orgy’, ‘The Virgin Soldiers’ and something called ‘The Cunt Colouring Book’. I reached out for the latter to see if it’s what it sounded like … oh my. Ladies, you might need a hand mirror to get the shading right.


The Fool by EC Woodard

Back upstairs in the gallery, the taxidermy theme runs strongly through the ‘Beasts Royal’ exhibition too. This isn’t usually the case, says ‘majordomo’ Patrick Knill, as the show changes several times a year. The art, mostly one-off pieces curated by Alice Herrick, is themed around animals and nature. The works are shown in the midst of a jungle of animals – there’s a parrot, a fox, some sort of small camel, a lion, a spotted creature I think may be a hyena, and a full-sized polar bear raised on two legs. There are some amazing little cabinets on display too, including a dressed-up frog reading Dickens, and a priceless setting of eight squirrels playing cards.


Fox Doorknocker by Jen Franklin

‘What you see in the gallery, we exhibit the things we do because we like it,’ says Knill. ‘We’re not a gallery for hire. We will put on artists that we like.’ While it’s not the case at the moment, the idea is for the gallery to look different from the rest of the space. This would have been the case with previous exhibitions, such as the one with photographer Lina Scheynius.

So what do people say when they come into the shop, I ask. ‘Well, sometimes people stay for 15 seconds and then they leave again,’ laughs Patrick. ‘Some people have a fear of certain animals, so if you are scared of butterflies you won’t last long.’ He points out that most of the taxidermy is antique, and in cases where it isn’t, the animals were culled for reasons such as pest-control.


By Andy Harper

The shop and gallery on Mare Street, randomly located between a closed-down pub and a loan shop in spitting distance of the strip joints on Hackney Road, are actually the latest additions to the many activities of The Last Tuesday Society. The group is probably better known for its club nights and hosted lectures, but by this point I’m too overwhelmed to remember to ask Patrick about this. Instead I crouch down to look at all the strange and wonderful things for sale in this ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. An exorcism doll believed to contain souls from previous sessions, mechanical wind-up toys, an elegant box of yes, you read right, these are ‘chocolate anuses modelled from life’. There’s lots of jewellery – ice cream cones, claws, spiders, and … are those teeth?! I lean further into the cabinet, digging for treasure. All the while I’m being watched by a giant bat, a dog with wings, and all the great beasts of the savanna.


By Lynn Hatzius

Visit The Last Tuesday Society and the Victor Wynd Fine Art gallery on 11 Mare Street, London E8. See the website for opening hours. ‘Beasts Royal’ runs until 28th January.

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One Response to “Beautiful freaks: The Last Tuesday Society”

  1. [...] December 11, 2010 in Amelia's Magazine Published in Amelia’s Magazine on 9 December 2010. Original article here. [...]

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