Amelia’s Magazine | Museum of Everything: A Review of Exhibition #3

Design Museum fashion talk by Leeay
Design Museum fashion talks Marc Jacobs A/W 2010, approved illustration by Leeay
Abi Daker The Museum of Everything
The Museum of Everything by Abigail Daker

Returning for the third time the Museum of Everything’s simply named Exhibition #3 has been put together with the help of British pop artist Sir Peter Blake. It only opened on the 13th October to coincide with the Frieze art fair and is due to close again at Christmas so get down there quick before it’s gone, page I promise you’d be sorry to miss it. A strange little place, the Museum of Everything can be found tucked away down a back street in Primose Hill next to the local library. However, although small in stature this curious museum will still require a good portion of your morning or afternoon to get round because every little space, spot, and shelf is covered with intriguing things to peer at.

themuseumofeverything by Emmeline Pidgen
Illustration by Emmeline Pidgen

Entering through the colourful striped doorway and paying a voluntary donation to a lady in a small kitsch ticket booth and you may be well on your way to guessing that the circus is the theme this time round. Indeed circus mirrors greet you, transforming you into a giant, a dwarf and…God forbid! Someone wider than they are tall! Apt then that round the corner is the ‘gallery of unusual people’ and the beginning of an interesting peek into the world of the carnival and the freak show. The gallery is a selection of historic sideshow memorabilia depicting everyone from bearded ladies and dwarves to a man with the completely smooth appearance (yes! including ‘downstairs’) and webbed feet of a frog. This vast collection of posters and postcards are a “celebration of difference” because “nobody’s perfect”, or at least that’s the idea as Sir Peter Blake himself explains in a video later on.

museumofeverything by emmeline pidgen
Snake Charmer by Emmeline Pidgen

Giant banners advertising, among other things, “strange little people”, and “the world’s most grotesque creature” are strewn all over the walls in the main hall. Painted by the so-called ‘king of the sideshow banner’, Fred Johnson, his is just one among the many all but defunct crafts that are revered at the Museum of Everything. There’s even a wardrobe door emblazoned with a leopard painted by sign painter Joe Ephgrave, who also painted the iconic drum skin on the award-winning cover of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album that Sir Peter Blake designed.

museum of everything
Girl by Ted Willcox

In fact that’s the really lovely thing about the Museum of Everything, iconic artworks are mixed in without fanfare among work from less known, brilliant, and usually eccentric artists’ – like the embroidery of Ted Willcox. Ted was taught to sew in hospital while recovering from injuries incurred in WW2. He then went on to spend the rest of his life indoors finding inspiration in everything from Alice in Wonderland to pictures of reclining bare-chested beauties, recreating them all in needle and thread.

Squirrels Boxing by Natasha Thompson

In many ways the Museum can be viewed as a potted history of Great Britain, though told from a thoroughly left field point of view. Nothing sums this up better than the Walter Potter section, an example of Victoriana at its most bizarre if ever there was one. Cleary no relation to animal lover Beatrix, Walter Potter’s tableaux are made up of stuffed rabbits, a variety of birds, squirrels, rats, frogs, puppies and kittens – all in a surprising range of poses. They are completely grotesque but also fascinating, and of course, today taxidermy is very much back in vogue with artists like Polly Morgan picking up and popularising the ancient craft once again.

Walter Potter Rabbit School by Holly Trill
Walter Potter Rabbit School by Holly Trill

The Museum of Everything managed to impart on me the same kinds of feelings that I imagine may have flashed through the minds of the archaic freak show audience. A mix of morbid curiosity, delight in viewing the strange, and a childish excitement over being reminded what a beautiful and odd world we live in. Catch it while the circus is still in town!

Open Wednesday – Sunday, 10.30 am – 6.30 pm until Christmas. More information on the Museum of Everything website here, and don’t forget to check in with our review from their last show in 2009, which was just as wonderful.

Categories ,Abigail Daker, ,art, ,Banners, ,Carnival, ,Circus, ,Collections, ,embroidery, ,Emmeline Pidgen, ,Freak show, ,Fred Johnson, ,frieze, ,Holly Trill, ,Icon, ,Joe Ephgrave, ,Memorabilia, ,Museum of Everything, ,Natasha Thompson, ,Polly Morgan, ,Primrose Hill, ,Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, ,Side Show, ,Sign painting, ,Sir Peter Blake, ,Taxidermy, ,Ted Willcox, ,the beatles, ,Walter Potter

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Amelia’s Magazine | My Big Fat Royal Wedding with East End Prints at Maiden

Maiden Big Fat Royal Wedding

You know an exhibition is a success when you come away having bought something that you absolutely didn’t need and didn’t plan to buy…. as I’ve just done at the Maiden shop in Shoreditch High Street, find run by Noah, cheapest here seen sitting on his Union Jack bedecked staircase.

Noah of Maiden and his Big Fat Royal Wedding
Noah of Maiden and his Big Fat Royal Wedding.

Maybe it’s the lover of kitsch in me, but there’s something about Royal Wedding memorabilia, both faux and real… that is just too too tempting. Thanks to Noah you no longer have to scour ebay for exciting royal themed gifts… because he’s gathered them all in one spot for your deletion, including mugs, decorated mirrors, annuals, teatowels, badges, plates…

Maiden Big Fat Royal Wedding
Maiden Big Fat Royal Wedding

Oh, and he’s also scavenged across the land to find exciting new artworks to celebrate this ridiculous event. I don’t think he’s really appealing to the blue-blooded royalists amongst us, featuring as his shop does, a selection of printed paper plates – limited edition, £5 a pop for Will with his alternative bride, Kate Moss, by Bark Design Ltd.

Maiden Big Fat Royal Wedding-BARK DESIGN LTD
Maiden Big Fat Royal Wedding-BARK DESIGN LTD
Maiden Big Fat Royal Wedding by Bark Design Ltd

Or by former Amelia’s Magazine illustrator Jess Wilson… a lady of wonderment creating delightful objects as always. Queen Kaffy. Love it.

Maiden Big Fat Royal Wedding-Jess Wilson
Maiden Big Fat Royal Wedding-Jess Wilson
Maiden Big Fat Royal Wedding. Commemorative plate by Jess Wilson

East End Prints are installed downstairs in an area where the Cakes for Japan sale was held, and which Noel tells me is open to anyone (for free) if they have a cool project they want to promote, providing he likes your idea of course.

Maiden Big Fat Royal Wedding. East End Bloc by Dr. D. £35 unframed.
One for the anarchists. East End Bloc by Dr. D. £35 unframed.

Maiden Big Fat Royal Wedding. High Tea by Arthouse. £80 for original artwork
High Tea by Arthouse. £80 for original artwork.

Maiden Big Fat Royal Wedding-Oh for fuck's sake! by Helen Lang
Oh for fuck’s sake! by Helen Lang.

I tell you, artists everywhere are having a field day over the wedding. And it’s not because they’ve suddenly become raving Royal fans, it’s because the kitsch potential is so bloomin’ huge. I’ve just been on the phone to Tatty Devine and discovered that they’re currently decking out their shop too. Look at these fab cameo brooches!

My dissertation was on kitsch. What can I say? I make no apologies and I will be popping new Royal Wedding stuff on here as I find it. Get in quick I say, before all the best stuff goes….

Full listing here.

Categories ,Arthouse, ,Bark Design, ,Bark Design LTD, ,Cakes for Japan, ,Dr. D, ,East End Prints, ,Helen Lang, ,Jess Wilson, ,Kate & Wills, ,Kate Moss, ,kitsch, ,Maiden, ,Memorabilia, ,Noah, ,Plates, ,Royal Wedding, ,Tatty Devine, ,Union Jack

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