I simply adored the last exhibition from The Museum of Everything held at their rambling space in Primrose Hill earlier in the year, and have pretty much raved about it ever since. Specialising in outsider art (untrained artists, often socially marginalised and psychologically fragile), The Museum of Everything showcases the best known outsider art discoveries from around the world. Entering their last exhibition (#3) was akin to entering a giant candy-striped big top. Imaginary scents of sawdust, candyfloss and childhood swirled as one was magically held spellbound by the fantastical drawings on display.
Forward to Exhibition #4 and founder James Brett has now moved the museum to its temporary home at Selfridges department store. The art is still joyful, but there is something jarring about this choice of commercial location as a current space. Most outsider art was never intended for any form of public viewing or display and yet I thought the former dairy in Primrose Hill seemed somehow a respectful and fitting venue. Here at Selfridges, several windows have been used to promote the exhibition in a positively garish fashion. There are busy mobiles dangling from ceilings and large red arrows pasted on the floor acting as signposts to the collection and the accompanying ’gift shop’ otherwise known as The Shop of Everything, in which every type of product – from a MoE woollen hat (£30) to a Celements Ribeiro silk top (£250 plus) – has been shamelessly branded.
I am aware that The Museum of Everything is a UK registered charity and I have no doubt that the profits from merchandise will benefit the artists featured, but it saddens me to say that the stand out scent permeating this exhibition, comprised a top note of commercialism and a base note of expensive leather wafting in from the designer handbags in Selfridges Wonder Room.
Exhibtion #4 is at Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, London, W1 until 25 October 2011.
For further information please visit: www.musevery.com
All images by Julie Eagleton.