Saturday, 17 October 2009

The Museum of Everything


Last night Anna and I forfitted a night out on the tiles in order to visit The Museum of Everything. Newly opened and with three stars from the Evening Standard amongst other press, this tucked-away gem is the most exciting thing to hit London in a while. Cleverly timed to coincide with the highbrow Frieze Art Fair in nearby Regents Park, the opening exhibition of Folk/Outsider Art is quirky, heart-warming and totally inspiring. Brimming from top to bottom, this unsusual gallery space is the perfect location for the largest collection of this type of art that I have ever seen.

I was lucky enough to catch some of Henry Darger's work in his show 'In the Realms of the Unreal' in San Francisco whilst on a Uni trip a few years back. His beautiful fairy tale-esque landscapes in watery colours blew me away at the time and the Museum of Everything have a large collection of his. On the same trip, a friend and I came across Creativity Explored in the Mission District of SF and spent some time with the artists there. Creativity Explored is a 'nonprofit visual arts center where artists with developmental disabilities create, exhibit, and sell art'. I was so inspired by the incredible people I met and the artwork. Two artists who I loved were Michael Bernard whose book 'Fears of Your Life' I bought and John Patrick McKenzie who compiles written list-style artworks that vary depending on whether he is in a good or bad mood. I am lucky enough to own an original of his.

We were drawn to the film 'Make' (blurb below) that was showing last night as it followed four artists with similar disabilities. The most moving part of the film for me was the relationships between each individual where their artwork portrayed a clear longing to connect with something/someone they had loved and in most cases lost because of their disability or soon after being diagnosed. Judith Scott, one of the artists featured (who also has work in The Museum of Everything) had spent the last part of her life visiting a similar centre art centre in Oakland called Creative Growth. The Bay area of California seems to be a really progressive area for this type of creative exploration and therapy. I am now inspired to discover similar places in London.


Anna and I went along thinking this was a new permanent space in London but later found out that it is only scheduled to be open for two weeks. The organisers are desperately trying to push it to be open for longer but just in case this doesn't happen I urge EVERYBODY to make a visit. As we walked out into the freezing night both of us had to pinch ourselves to remind us that we weren't back in California. It really felt like we could have been because places like this just don't exist in London, especially in Primrose Hill, which is not a place I visit much.

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