A magical space at 73 Redchurch Street E2

Iain Sinclair


I’d like to mention a magical space at 73 Redchurch Street E2, where I had a preview of a shop/installation, due to open on Dec 1st. And to remain open, Tuesday-Sunday (12 – 7pm), through December. It is operated by the artist Keggie Carew. It’s the kind of weird and provocative assembly you hope to stumble across, when wandering the city, but rarely do. Coming in off the street feels like an intrusion. Nothing is identity-fixed or troubled by its price tag. Bundles of books hang from the ceiling: you have to take them as a unit, like a bunch of bananas. (Otherwise you trample on the taste of the proprietor.) There are boxes which display everything you need for a little museum based on delicate bones retrieved from owl droppings. There are party necklaces made from flies. There are pink curtains stitched together from remnants scavenged, years ago, from vanished local industries. The whole business is eco-visionary, nicely crazy, not eco hysterical or self-righteous. Concrete poetry without the concrete, properly accidental, found, recognised.

Perhaps the most astonishing item is an assembly of items, another box, as a memorial to Keggie’s father, a man with a life too fantastic to submit itself to any form of orthodox biography: hair-raising wartime adventures, in France and Burma, peacetime liaisons and unforced eccentricities, recalled through anecdote, document, image.  The whole cave of this shop is dedicated to honouring the spirit of the story, told, recorded, made into pictures and objects.

I have customised a couple of my books – ‘Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire’ and ‘Postcards from the 7th Floor’ – to go into the mix. The Hackney paperbacks have been dressed with maps from the British Empire Exhibition and some handwritten extras.