learn and pass it on
East London bookshop Donlon Books expands to include a treasure trove emporium full to bursting with original posters, objects, textiles and ephemera.
Lily Rose Thomas
Behind an unmarked door at number 77 Broadway Market is a brand new retail space — the most recent project of Anna Howard and Conor Donlon. Conceived as a kind of sister shop to the legendary Donlon Books next door (which Conor began in 2008, and which has been featured in these pages before) — the pair have curated a selection of original posters, objects, textiles, and ephemera which relate to their shared interests in music, art, design, folklore, and the occult. As such, the shop has an atmosphere which feels part-museum, part-living room, part-cabinet of curiosities, part-nightclub.
The contents of number 77 are, of course, ever-changing. On display at the moment are a selection of press images from the 50s and 60s (a quick skim reveals photographs of lunar eclipses, geodesic domes, and magic mushrooms), recently acquired boro textiles from Japan, and an antique Pazuzu demon statuette from Syria. Last week, the shop's bay window featured a miniature pig-skin couch set (originally used by traveling furniture salesmen as a way of demonstrating their wares); a few weeks earlier, the same space was occupied by hundreds of Japanese kokeshi dolls which stood on display in tight formation. One can pull open the drawers of the plan chest in the center of the room and comb through original Kenneth Anger, Dieter Roth, Andy Warhol, and Martin Kippenberger posters. Or you might open a cabinet or two and find an original masonic sash, or a mid-century molecular model, or a decades-old piece of rock candy from The Haçienda's Second Birthday party.
In December, the shop celebrated its opening with the launch of its first commissioned artist's edition — a series of ceramics by illustrator and textile designer John Booth. The next edition is yet to be announced, but Anna and Conor have a lineup of other collaborations to unfold as the year continues. As with Donlon Books, number 77 is more than a shop, it's a place where you can find something incredible, and where incredible things can happen.
Number 77 Broadway Market is open from Thursdays to Sundays, 11am - 6pm.
Here are a few picks from Anna and Conor's most recent finds:
"This poster of John Waters' all-time favorite muse Divine was designed by the late artist Todd Trexler, known for the posters and flyers he created for the psychedelic San Franciscan theatrical troupe The Cockettes, and disco diva Sylvester (who also happened to be Trexler's next-door neighbor). With the onset of the AIDs epidemic in the early 80s, Trexler left San Francisco and retrained as a nurse, allowing him to spend the remainder of his working life assisting patients with HIV."
Kenneth Anger Equinox
"This is a limited edition print of Kenneth Anger's original poster for The Equinox of the Gods —an event Anger held in Haight-Ashbury in 1967 as a combined commemoration of the fall equinox and benefit to raise funds for his film Lucifer Rising (which would take another 12 years to finish). The evening apparently featured an "Aleister Crowley Ceremony" performed by Anger, and the musical stylings of Manson Family offcast (and later-convicted murderer) Bobby Beausoleil."
"Boy + Candle
"We know very little about this German studio portrait, other than the fact that it was apparently taken in 1958. As there's no trace of the photographer's name, its exact provenance will have to remain a mystery."
"This is one of our favorite finds — an American press image from 1973, apparently used for a feature on hairstyles. We particularly like the hand-painted retouching on the picture, as can sometimes be found on press photos from this time. On the back of the image, the girl's details are given: Cynthia Baskerville, 21."
"From 1973, this original COUM Transmissions edition was designed by Genesis P-Orridge (who appears in it alongside Cosey Fanni Tutti) and printed by Bill Meyer and P-Orridge at the Death Factory in Hackney. Later, the poster was used to promote COUM's Prostitution exhibition at the ICA (which earned the group their title as "wreckers of civilization")."
"This is grim — an original handprint signed and dated by American serial killer Ottis Toole (whose story was loosely adapted for the cult American horror flick Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer)."
"From 1984, this screen-printed poster was designed for the legendary Manchester nightclub The Haçienda, which was launched in 1982, and co-owned by Factory Records and New Order. Famously, the club suffered countless financial setbacks, but somehow managed to keep its doors open for fifteen years, before finally closing in 1997. The poster features the iconic yellow and black striped design from the club's interior, designed by architect Ben Kelly."
"This is Frank Stella's incredible poster (in an unusual half-circle cut-out shape) for Merce Cunningham & Dance Company's Latin American tour in 1968. The year before, Stella had designed the costumes and set for the group's new work, Scramble."
"This is the poster for Keith Haring's Into 84 exhibition which was held at Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York in 1983. The silhouetted figure is dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones, whose body was painted by Haring in early 1983, and then captured in various movements by photographer Tseng Kwong Chi. The following year, Haring painted Grace Jones with a similar design, spawning an ongoing creative partnership between the two."
Text Emma Capps
Photography Lily Rose Thomas