For several years (1998-2002) me and my sister, Sue Prince, had a shop/gallery called The Last Chance Saloon on Lower Marsh in London's Waterloo.

This was basically a place that sold and displayed things that we would want to buy and see ourselves, that lived on a street that had an undiscovered feel to it and was also home to a tattooists, a mod/sixties clothing shop, a forties/fifties vintage shop, a second hand book shop, a fetish shop and a local street market.

Above is the flyer design for Coop's exhibition, a photo of me, Coop, his partner Ruth and Sue from the opening of Coop's exhibition, the screenprinted poster for Vince Ray's third exhibition at The Last Chance Saloon and a photo of the front of the shop.

What had at The Last Chance Saloon was basically a twisted take on oddball pop culture, devils'n'hotrods, zines, small press books, our own clothing labels, quirky toys, a huge range of our own pin badges, a dash of records... oh, it's difficult to describe.

Alongside clothing ranges designed by me and Sue we put together a fine selection of clothing, jigsaws and other merchandise featuring the work of Vince Ray, Mr X (former front man with Sheep on Drugs and now a tattooist of note at Into You in London), Paris Hair and Frank Kozik.

These were a few of the print designs that Vince Ray and Mr X did for us at the Last Chance Saloon...


Below are just a few of some of the clothing prints me and Sue designed while we had The LCS. The left hand one is by Sue, the middle one is a hybrid of mine and Sue's work, the right hand one is by me:

Here are some photos of folk in The Last Chance Saloon:

Customers...
Eric in door (gent who helped out with web stuff), Vince Ray stood up, his young lady Katie with her back to the camera, me in the middle of the sofa, my sis at the right.
Miss Katie, Vince Ray and Sue "having a fag" outside the shop.
Max and Marnie shopping
Eric on sofa and longish shot of the ground floor.
Vince'n'Sue'n'books'n'clothes...
Me and Sue giving one another that (bickering) look.
Another long shot of the shop.
Me at the back of the shop.

(Some of the shop photographs are by Cathy Ward, who did sterling work manning the post in the latter days of The Last Chance Saloon. Visit her work in the ether here. She has been a longstanding collaborator with Eric Wright - who is in the photographs above. Visit their joint work here.)

A large part of what we displayed and sold became known as 'lowbrow' culture. These were often artists and designers who made limited edition screenprinted posters, who referenced rock'n'roll'n'pop culture alongside hotrods and devil girls. They often used figurative drawing when conceptual art was everything. Examples of such people at the time would be Frank Kozik, Coop, Robert Williams, Mark Ryden and Shag.

We were probably the first place in the UK to consistently sell the work and prints by such people.

The gallery side of the shop proved to be hugely successful**, receiving oodles of press for the shows and we made one of the floors into just exhibition space plus we had gallery space on the top floor.

People seemed to be prepared to travel even from other countries to come and see our exhibitions. I remember one young chap travelling from mainland Europe to see our Billy Childish exhibition with the express purpose of buying a painting.

The exhibition had already ended but fortunately I still had the paintings stored in the basement, which he flipped through to find one he wanted.

Our exhibitions included the first UK shows by screen printed rockposter artists Coop and Frank Kozik, the first ever exhibition by the fetish'n'psychobilly illustrator Vince Ray. Our opening show was by the garage punk musician/poet/artist/one man industry Billy Childish. We also had shows by mail artist Mark Pawson, kinda-post feminist fashion designer Karen Savage, girls with spaceships in their hair illustrator Neil McFarland (aka Paris Hair) and a group poster show that featured work by Shepard Fairey, Banksy and Pete Fowler... oh and not to forget glam seditionairy club night Kitsch Bitch, which was probably actually my personal favourite.

From what I remember the exhibitions went in this order:

Billy Childish (2 months-ish)
Vince Ray (2 months-ish)
Kitsch Bitch (1 month)
Coop (3 months)
Mark Pawson (2 months-ish)
Frank Kozik (3 months)
Karen Savage (2-3 months)
Neil McFarland/Paris Hair (1 month)
Vince Ray (1 month)
Don't Panic Group Show including Shepard Fairey, Bansky, Pete Fowler and others (1 month)
Vince Ray (1 month)

Here are some other fliers for exhibitions at the shop:

The shop existed in the time just prior to the online boom and you still had to buy things from shops, cultural access was much scarcer than today and people seemed to find our establishment a quite magical and special place and we had a lot of very dedicated customers, who I thank greatly.

I guess we had a genuine passion for it and that came through.

I haven't thought about the place much for quite a while but as I do and come to be typing about it I realise I'm terribly proud of what we did.

It was a small outpost of independance and individualism, a rarity in shop spaces then and increasingly so today.

The Last Chance Saloon, I salute you!



*It's kind of odd but people seem to think that anything beyond just south of the river Thames in London is another country and it makes that four Tube station stop from Soho to South of the river, which takes about ten minutes, seem like a very long way away. Folk will make more of a dedicated trip for a gallery than a set of oddball shops.


**An example being the Frank Kozik exhibition where the chap in question did a signing and it went on for five hours non-stop, had people literally queueing round the block and in the press we had three magazine front covers, over forty other interviews/features, TV and radio coverage etc etc.



Me having a right good think about things.