museum of everything 4 at selfridges

23 September 2011 § 4 Comments

The Museum of Everything meets the shop of everything. As I commented a month or so back when this collaborative exhibition was announced, it seemed a rather unlikely-looking marriage of opposites. It appears wrong that those artists working outside the mainstream, perhaps by refusing to be part of society or having been shunned and ignored by it, are here linked up with a long-established shrine to mainstream capitalism.

My suspicions were well-founded. Everything from drawing pads, pens and bags to expensive designer dresses had been merchandised and were being sold in the slick ‘Shop of Everything’. To be fair the MoE has announced the launch of The Workshops of Everything – an ‘initiative to support studios for self-taught artists with developmental and other disabilities’ – but it was far from clear if how much of the profit would go to this venture, or indeed the artists involved in providing the designs used on the products.

There was much artwork in a cleverly-designed network of tiny galleries, that had lots of charm, such as Ruby Bradford’s portraits of assorted royalty, and I would strongly recommend anyone unfamiliar with the MoE pops down and takes a look. Nevertheless the whole exercise showed that outsider art and commercialism do not sit comfortably together. The sooner the MoE gets back to its former, appropriately ramshackle and charming location in Primrose Hill, the better. As my wife commented, the previous exhibitions smelled of childhood, the current one of money.

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