The Museum of Everything - an insider's view of outsider art


Well, what a peculiar place.  The Museum of Everything proved to be a weird, macabre, and (maybe) wonderful place, tucked away in an old warehouse-like building in Primrose Hill, London. The current exhibition is a display of ephemera from artist Peter Blake's collection, a mix of bits and pieces such as carnival and circus art, postcard of carnival people etc., work commissioned by Peter Blake from people he consider to be 'outsiders' in the art world and some of Walter Potter's taxidermy tableaux.  My favourite exhibit was the work of Ted Wilcox - an ex-serviceman who made embroideries of pin-up girls, and a number of less weird but wonderful commissions by Peter Blake depicting themes from Alice in Wonderland, again by Ted Wilcox.

The Museum of Everything says about it's mission, "Since its opening in 2009, The Museum of Everything has showcased the odd, the spectacular and the extraordinary, celebrating the creativity of makers kept outside the art realm. It also invites the visitor to reconsider the role of a museum, what we preserve and what we leave out, unveiling the cracks plaguing the dominant art historical narrative."

Well it does do that, no doubt about it.  But I feel uneasy about this 'outsider' art thing.  It is true that many of these people would not be accepted by the mainstream art world.  But would they care?  They are accepted in their own worlds, and isn't 'high art' just another world?  And they are here in this show because an insider in the art world has selected and curated their work.  The whole show of outsider art is edited by insiders - Peter Blake being the obvious one.  There's also a bit of a 'too cool for school' feel to it.  Look at us, enjoyed art that we shouldn't enjoy! Still, it I did enjoy it, so lets not be too stuffy about it (ha! no pun intended).  I was more disturbed by the stuffed rabbits and kittens than I expected to be.  But then again, some of the pieces - 'The Death and Burial of Cock Robin' balanced the macabre and the whimsical in a rather pleasing way.

jump to Victoria Scholes' website
Image 'The Death and Burial of Cock Robin' by Walter Potter, from A Case of Curiosities website

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