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.

the museum of everything goes shopping

10 August 2011 § 1 Comment

The delightfully quirky gallery/ museum/organisation/charity that is the Museum of Everything has just announced its next exhibition – number 4 for those who are counting. Having left – or been chucked out of (we are not sure which) – of its rickety premises at Primrose Hill in January the location of it’s next outing comes as something of a surprise – Selfridges!

To those unfamiliar with the MoE it specifically champions the work of ‘Outsider’ Artists – those that are self-taught working outside the conventional art world and who may be suffering from mental or social problems. The work may perhaps be naive, visionary or folk-orientated but what it is not is dull. MoE’s previous exhibitions have shown a wealth of creativity. Want some truly original art? Forget the Tate, this is where you will find an Aladdins cave of the imaginative, interesting and intricate or perhaps the the beautiful, bizarre and bonkers.

The announcement therefore of an ‘Outsider’ exhibition in the heart of the consumer mecca that is Oxford Street is, on the face of it, somewhat contrary. It seems right to bring ‘Outsider’ work to the creaky fringes of the London art world but not quite so fitting to present it quite so closely with the insider’ world. The delight of exploring the rambling venue that was the Primrose Hill venue contributed much to the pleasure of the experience so I will look forward to the new show with some reservations.

We are promised some fifty such new discoveries, from wrestle-maniac Tomoyuki Shinki’s technicolour ring of combat to the magical flying cities of Teutonic meister Hans-Jorg Georgi. The shop windows will be filled with MoE displays whilst in a downstairs hall we are promised ‘a dive of possibilities, a Willy Wonka sweetshop of aural delight, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, on every wall, in every nook, never before revealed to human eyes.’

Not eschewing the opportunity for at least some financial gain (the entry is free and MoE is a charity) there will also be a shop and an ‘almost free’ cafe. Put it in your diary- it is free, handy for some Christmas shopping and one other thing is for sure – it won’t be dull!

Exhibition #4 opens 2 September 2011 at Selfridges Oxford Street.

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