Britain has an eccentric past. Evidence of this can be seen in some of the little known toy museums, fun fairs and sea side resorts around the country; much of which have been forgotten about. In Exhibition #3 we get a chance to witness some of the United Kingdom’s ‘unconventional’ past. The exhibition gives us a view of the ‘bazaar’ and true British oddities. On display are fun fairs, art works, the so called ‘circus freaks’, peculiar taxidermy and other such overlooked ‘art forms’. The Exhibition was opened for two months from October last year but has re-opened for another month from January the 5th.
Exhibition #3 is a collaboration between Sir Peter Blake and the Museums of Everything’s James Brett. Brett like Blake is a great collector of these strange artifacts and fascinated by them. The Underlying idea is to display non-traditional art by untrained artists. Things like taxidermy and the work of fairground painters take centre stage in this exhibition. The displays consist of Blake’s own collection, but he has also borrowed pieces from other collectors.
What really makes Exhibition #3 a memorable experience is how the works interact with each other within the exhibition space. Every inch tells a story, but instead of becoming overcrowded it creates an unusual intimacy and an overall sensation of a lost world.
Already at the entrance you feel like you are entering a world from a bye gone era. The exhibition starts by taking us through a narrow passage full of photos of Victorian 'circus-freaks'. After that we get introduced to a vast variety of British eccentricity, seen in the shell sculptures, puppet theatres and fairground memorabilia. On the second floor what is displayed is the wicked world of Walter Potter's extraordinary taxidermy. His work displays boxing rats, the world smallest dog and a two headed lamb, to name but a few.
Ted Willcox’s work stands out. He (according to Blake) was a 2nd World War rear gunner, who spent his later years embroidering art works; mostly depictions of female ‘pin-ups’. The girls have been given strangely colorful backgrounds and some of them have their arms full of tattoos. Whether appreciated or not, unique they are.
On the whole it is refreshing to see a part of British history, usually overlooked, get dusted off and exhibited in such an interesting and suitable way.