Outsider art, or Art Brut in French, is art outside the boundaries of general culture. Fitting then, that British pop artist Sir Peter Blake’s* celebration of Outsiderism, The Museum of Everything, is so at odds with its refined Primrose Hill home.
The Museum of Everything is a trip to Coney Island, via the British music hall, freak shows and the circus, and it’s only open until Valentine’s Day. The exhibition is an anthology of Blake’s assembled oddities with featured artists.
Across from leafy Regents Park, the exhibition could be a trendy hair salon in Hoxton. The space was once a dairy and you can still smell it. That and – almost – the smell of the grease paint. Maybe they’ve pumped that circus smell in, but it certainly has the right effect.
Admirer Damien Hirst has lent work: a diorama of stuffed rats in waistcoats, to the Victorian taxidermist Walter Potter’s Museum of Curiosity. If you love the notion of kittens at a tea party, this one’s for you.
Arthur Windley’s miniature fairgrounds are slightly spine-chilling; wait for the quarterly hour ‘show’ and they’ll light up and spin at breakneck speed, like something out of a Stephen King horror film.
Recently, La Familia Missoni flew over from Milan for a family portrait kitted out in the SS11 collection. Aptly, the colours Blake has incorporated evoke the Missoni brand distinctly. Madam Missoni (Angela) considers herself an ‘assembler’, like Blake. “I thought [the exhibition] was fantastic and very close to my aesthetic.”
Blake’s collection of the curious breathes fresh air over London’s art scene, with a wiff of Gilbert and George and the ‘spectacle’ of performance. It’s comic but never grotesque. Well, unless you’re averse to seeing stuffed toads on a seesaw.
The Museum of Everything, corner of Regents Park Rd and Sharples Hall St, NW1 8YL, London