GETTING your hair cut in a weird art installation should not really work – but it does.

Those are the words of Stuart Semple who has teamed up with Anthony Alden-Clift to offer just that in a former post office on the edge of Bournemouth town centre.

Strange looks from passers-by have not been in short supply since the transformation of the former West Hill Post Office premises in Commercial Road.

And you can’t really blame them when faced with a “post-apocalyptic” noodle bar packed with detail and mystery.

Behind the abandoned eatery space, which does not offer any food for sale (or stamps) and through the vending machine entrance there is an artist at work in providing people with a fresh trim.

But this is not a normal salon, the walls of Blunt Instruments are covered in sought after skateboard designs and even some of Stuart’s own work.

Summarising the project, Stuart said: “I think art is about community, so spaces where communities can come together and be in art and artists need places to work.

“Anthony is an artist and that is it. As far as the Chop Shop goes I just like that narrative that it doesn’t quite make sense, so you find your own meaning or your own storyline through it. It is interesting because there are so many levels here.

"You can just see it purely as an artwork, so you walk past, and you look at it or you don’t even see it an artwork and you think what the hell has happened to the old post office or you get to come through the vending machine and you have a whole world of Anthony’s work and his artistry going back 20 odd years. It is just weird.”

Bournemouth Echo: Stuart Semple outside the Chop ShopStuart Semple outside the Chop Shop

Outside the building and some of the site’s past remains although Stuart and Anthony have made efforts to highlight that people definitely cannot buy stamps from the Chop Shop.

Anthony has worked as a hairdresser in the Bournemouth area for 30 years but he has never had his own space before and he is thriving.

“I have worked in three different types of salon from your high street, high-end fashion to more of a community thing in Westbourne to a boutique spa in Canford Cliffs and I have felt I have had to hold back on me to some extent,” Anthony said.

“I ended up doing some work for Lush in their research and development hair product brand and realised I was just losing myself even more.

“I spoke with my good friend Stuart. I always had the idea of a shop within a shop, more so to support the ability to have commercial space but also as a front.

Bournemouth Echo: Oasis fans might recongise one of the chairs in the salon Oasis fans might recongise one of the chairs in the salon

“I think the secrecy of something can be misconstrued as arrogance and a little bit of elitism but it is the complete opposite. It is welcome to everyone as long as they come in for a consultation first and we establish whether we get along.

“I had always been forced into cutting everyone’s hair because I have worked for other people, where as now I can choose because it is a very personal thing. I am not going to be for everyone and everyone is not going to be for me.

“To date we have only turned away three people and two of them were based on not liking the dog.”

Through the salon, which does not offer walk-in appointments, the premises also has space for the incredible work of Vissenga Leatherworks and accommodation, which can be booked on Airbnb, downstairs.

Bournemouth Echo: The stairwell down to the lower level is wrapped in amazing artworkThe stairwell down to the lower level is wrapped in amazing artwork

Stuart said: “I have been making more of the immersive, sculptural stuff but I never really get to show it in Bournemouth or have anywhere where I show that, so having a piece of my work that anyone can visit, any time of the day or night and see through the window is amazing.”

Anthony said while everyone else was polishing their shop front to encourage people to come in, they had done the opposite by deconstructing it.

“I think the proof is in the feedback from clients, how many people are being recommended,” Anthony said.

Bournemouth Echo:

"We do have quite a tongue in cheek, ruffle of the feathers ad campaign running at the moment. It has offended some people but that is part and parcel of it.”

He added: “People are forever stood outside thinking what happens in there.

“Magic happens. People come in there and come out with great hair and smiling. What do we do in here? We do art, it is just on hair.

Bournemouth Echo: Stuart Semple inside the Chop ShopStuart Semple inside the Chop Shop

“It is so unique and for me I can be me. I finally feel like I am doing what I should have been doing where I should be doing it.”