It’s looking a bit squeaky clean and vanilla here so lets muddy the water with some ‘gremlins’ at a Fringe Zoology exhibition by Alex CF at that quaint mini museum The Old Operating Theatre in SE1. Now this is what the Cultural Olympics should be all about – hacking up bits of fur and getting busy fusing some mammals. I used to be crazy about this stuff until I spotted a moth, then I cleared it out sooner than you could say Damian Hirst – crivens – anything to save the wardrobe. I now have a mischief of mice (yes that is the collective noun!) masquerading as a host of fantastic creatures: two trophy heads, one with a unicorn horn and a priest, a punk and a wizard. They should make a celebrity appearance soon.
In fact I might go on a bit now I’m on a zoology roll. I used to be a very active member of the Natural History Museum because they did these amazing behind the scenes tours. You’d meet the curators of all these departments such as the Spirit Building. These guys hadn’t seen 9-5 daylight for decades. You could see how long they’d been confined to a 70% Vol proof-filled basement by looking at their security pass mugshots and their general pasty pallor. These corridors of shelves were laden with jars full of some serious gothic stuff. But despite the aroma of spirits wafting about they were sharp as nails – bumping up their budgets here and there by shaving off the odd bit of shark skin to sell to Speedo’s R&D dept. Fascinating stuff.
But nothing can beat the Zoology Dept overflow which is secretly stashed away in a former bus depot in SW London suburbia. Navigate through a couple of airlocks and wave goodbye to life as you knew it. You graduate from corridors to aisles here – or should I say superhighways. I don’t even know where to begin recounting tales of the hairy beasts in here: find a row of British Bulldogs where you can see with your very eyes how intensive breeding has created that gnarly look – they sure didn’t used to be stocky and jowly – this new but ‘quintessential’ look isn’t true to their roots but they’re stuck with all kinds of ailments that have been bred in. Tsk. I’ve run out of steam now. Go, its amazing, you’ll probably be the youngest person on the tour but the most transfixed.
Old Operating Theatre, St Thomas St, SE1. Exhibition 9th August – 1st Sept.