“Everything” is a lot, and becoming the museum of everything is a very ambitious project. But with their new exhibition (number3) opened just a couple of weeks ago TMOE keep surprising the audience with their multi-freak collections of unconventional art.
In this #3 exhibition you’ll discover the world of circus, its art, artefacts…. “Bedazzle yourself with our assemblies of Punch & Judy and little people! Marvel at the vintage side-show banners of carnival king Fred Johnson! Take a ride on the tiny fairgrounds of Norfolk farmer Arthur Windley! And satisfy your dusty urges at Walter Potters legendary Museum of Curiosity, a master work of Victorian animalia, re-assembled here for the very first time!”.
Sir Peter Blake (UK’s greatest living artist, pop art pioneer and a devotee of self-taught creativity and found ephemera) co-curates the exhibition with the founder of the museum James Brett, both joining forces and private collections (Blake has always been a big fan of the visual aesthetic of vintage circuses and fairgrounds, music memorabilia, Victorian taxidermy, folk art or sporting and theatrical curios).
The main attraction of the exhibition is undoubtedly the world & creatures of Walter Potter… where baby rabbits go to school and weep over their blotted copybooks, and where Bullingdon Club-style squirrels puff on cigars as toads play leapfrog and rat police raid a drinking den. A world being reassembled for this exhibition seven years after his creatures were sold and scattered across the world.
Other loans for the exhibition come from the comedian Harry Hill, the photographer David Bailey, other passionate private enthusiasts, and Pat Morris, a retired academic and expert on the history of taxidermy who intends to leave his own collection to a museum. Even Daimien Hirst has contributed with a truly Hirstian piece, called Happy Families, in which Potter has assembled natural “enemies” including cats, a dog, birds, squirrels, rats, mice and a tortoise, in a distinctly uneasy truce.
The founder of the Museum of Everything, James Brett, who made his money in films and property, opened the first exhibition of the “outsider art” he collects, including work made in prisons and mental health units, last year as a fringe event for the Frieze Art Fair. It was intended to run for a fortnight but was repeatedly extended due to public interest – and the free cafe – and by the time it finally did close had attracted more than 35,000 visitors.
He intended this time to re-create the glorious chaos of Blake’s studio. The artist who created the cover for the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper is a collector and hoarder on an epic scale, and the exhibition will include some of his toys, shells, advertising ephemera and giant circus banners.
Yes, an eclectic range of bizarreness with a great sense of taste… you’ll have an amazing time. Entrance is free (you may well donate £3) and it’s very near Chalk Farm tube station: opened in a former Victorian dairy, and later recording studio, in Primrose Hill, London…. and it’s open until December 13th (more info on opening times & how to get there on their webpage). Enjoy!