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art Each artist offer us a glimpse of their own particular imaginary space, be it the ghostly world of medium Madge Gill’s intricate black and white drawings, in which wistful female faces appear and disappear against an elaborate backdrop of Alice-in-Wonderland kaleidoscope patterns; Aloise Corbas’s portraits of fantasy princesses with flamboyant jewels and magnificent swirling hair; or Henry Darger’s ‘Vivian Girls’ – a complex, illustrated narrative about the heroic escapades of a group of beautiful young girls, which on closer inspection is disturbed by the inclusion of sinister and subversive elements in surrealist fashion. Peeping into these inner worlds, the viewer is occasionally invited to take a closer look through magnifying glasses or binoculars, in a clever play on the distance between gazer and object, artist and spectator, insider and outsider. This quirky showcase of secret artworks is accompanied by a series of texts by well-known artistic and cultural figures, including Hans Ulrich Obrist, Peter Blake, Ed Ruscha, Grayson Perry, Mark Titchener, Eva Rothschild, Jeremy Deller, Jarvis Cocker and Nick Cave; yet thankfully, on the whole they resist the temptation to overintellectualise, or obscure these works with contemporary art jargon. Instead, in general these texts appear to focus primarily on what inspires and excites about these works, setting the tone for an exhibition which skilfully side-steps value judgements. For in the end, it doesn’t really seem to matter who has made these works, or what their ‘outsider’ status might be: far from grappling with questions of what makes these works are ‘art’, The Museum of Everything is primarily focused on offering the viewer an idiosyncratic gallery experience. Though this quirkiness sometimes may feel a little too contrived, this higgledy-piggledy assemblage of artworks certainly conveys a vivid sense of intensity and frenetic energy often missing from a more conventional presentation of work. At the end of the journey you emerge, stepping through a ribbon curtain into a café that could be straight from a village fete – complete with tea, jam, and things to buy that have a pleasingly handmade aesthetic. Self-consciously kooky though it may well be, The Museum of Everything is certainly a memorable experience: a colourful treasure-trove of the surprising, thought-provoking and bizarre.

Photos posted by toaster / USA Average Rating: 4,4

www.katemacdowell.com

Kate Macdowell

“In my work this romantic ideal of union with the natural world conflicts with our contemporary impact on the environment. These pieces are in part responses to environmental stressors including climate change, toxic pollution, and gm crops. They also borrow from myth, art history, figures of speech and other cultural touchstones. In some pieces aspects of the human figure stand-in for ourselves and act out sometimes harrowing, sometimes www.theblogpaper.co.uk

humorous transformations which illustrate our current relationship with the natural world. In others, animals take on anthropomorphic qualities when they are given safety equipment to attempt to protect them from man-made environmental threats. In each case the union between man and nature is shown to be one of friction and discomfort with the disturbing implication that we too are vulnerable to being victimized by our destructive practices.”

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