Ever dreamt of a place which can offer Second World War era glass eyes, bronze flying fox skulls and ukulele kits? You, my friend, need to start shopping at the Otherist.
I’ll admit, it sounds like a bizarre premise for a business; on several occasions I have heard people expressing disgust or bewilderment at the objects in the window display. Last time I was in the shop, a woman issued a high-pitched ‘Ewww’ after seeing the model of a human heart. However, there is a very simple premise to this little eclectic concoction: wunderkammers. I’m not so hot on my European renaissance terms, but my little friend the internet dutifully informed me that it was the practice of creating encyclopaedic collections of objects which, as yet, had failed to be defined into a category.
Apparently, the people garnering these collections aimed to create a microcosm or theatre of the world in their own cabinet. Which is a mighty grand way of thinking about an assortment of objects, but many of them have apparently formed the basis of several museums, including the British Museum in London.*
Alas, I am straying from the original premise. If you’re sitting there, thinking that glass eyes just aren’t your thing, don’t let it put you off visiting this cabinet of curiosities. There are many beautiful butterflies in frames which adorn the walls (and a couple of unusual-looking bugs too), interesting art prints and many examples of original jewellery which I am yet to find anywhere else.
They are also well connected to cyber space, with an online shop, blog and Facebook page to keep you informed of any new merchandise they have in store. So even if you cannot visit in person, you can still browse their assortment of oddities and decide which would complement your own collection.
And as a nice bonus, they offer a free gift-wrapping service. My mum described it as ‘lovely’ when I sent her a pair of their earrings for her birthday. There’s a recommendation if ever I heard one.
*This may seem a little off topic but the man responsible for setting the foundation of the British Museum’s collection was the man also accredited with introducing drinking chocolate to Europe – Sir Hans Sloane.