Especially eye-catching is Stefan Häfner’s City of the Future window sculpture, which is mounted on a rotating platform. The piece is an arresting introduction to The Museum of Everything: its organic simplicity is immediately appealing, whilst a closer inspection reveals microscopic details such as a television set just visible through the window of a block of flats.
…there is a definite sense of having fallen into the rabbit hole.
Since its first Exhibition in 2009, the Museum of Everything – which pioneers outsider art, this time exhibiting a number of works by artists with physical and psychological disabilities – has grown both in terms of reputation and in visitor numbers. However it is clear that Exhibition #4, which brings “the odd, the spectacular and the extraordinary” to one of London’s busiest high streets, aims to appeal to a more mainstream, less exclusive crowd. The organisers’ strategy has clearly worked: standing outside Selfridges, it is apparent that the carefully chosen window display is enough to grab the attention of Oxford Street’s busy shoppers, with several pedestrians stopping in their tracks to admire the artists’ handiwork.
The exhibition space itself is equally impressive: there is a definite sense of having fallen into the rabbit hole, with cut-away brick walls and staircases leading to nowhere. The feel is quaint and charming, while the art itself ranges from loud, exciting sculptures to impossibly intricate architectural designs. Especially impressive are William Scott’s huge canvasses, depicting an idealised version of his native San Francisco, in stark juxtaposition to his own impoverished childhood.
“The epic battle between the artist and her body…”
Throughout the exhibition are short film installations that show the artists at work. This is a particularly important and enlightening feature, as it reveals the clearly beneficial and therapeutic nature of art to these individuals. The short film that accompanies Marianne Schipaanboord’s work is a good example of this, perfectly demonstrating how “The epic battle between the artist and her body are all but forgotten in the delicate watercolour fragments which diarise her world-class work.”
It must be said that at times the assault of colours and the accompanying sounds to Exhibition #4 make it difficult to take it all in. The limited amount of space available in Selfridges’ Ultralounge means that the works frequently appear to be jostling for room, and there are no clear boundaries between one artist’s works and the next. However, to criticise this excessively would be to take away from the fact that by displaying Exhibition #4 in one of London’s busiest department stores the organisers have been able to reach and inspire a far greater range of people than ever before.