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Welcome to rachelsays... The blog of Rachel Lewis, containing my thoughts and musings on illustration, design, fashion, music, cakey-bakey goodness, culture and things that I generally find cool. There's also a good chance my own illustration work will pop up on here.

All work on this blog is copyright to me unless I state that it isn't. Obviously. Don't do stealing, kids.

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Selfridges Museum Of Small Things Review

On friday I popped into London for the day, and one of the things I did was visit Selfridge's M.O.S.T exhibition, as I promised I would.

The first thing I'll say is that it was dark. Very dark. All the walls were black, some covered with fake black leaves (a strange decision) and there was no set direction in which you walked around the exhibition, which I sort of liked but sort of felt a bit disconcerting, with the darkness. Maybe that was the point; to encourage you to look harder and find the small things. Here's a scan of my map anyway, and you'll see what I mean:

So you went in any one of a number of different ways and wandered round in no particular direction. It wasn't busy when I was there (being the first day of opening) so that was nice, I could take my time. Here are the pieces in the exhibition that I liked best. There were lots more but I felt these were worth taking pictures of. However grainy and un-flashed because it was so dark and the glass was reflective.

The first piece I got to was this projection on the wall, called Eternal Turmoil by McFaul. It's supposed to represent Nature and it's destructive force, all animals being created to feed each other, and plagues, disease etc being created to destroy things, including humans. I thought it was quite ethereal, the subject matter didn't come across instantly but it was interesting to watch. The top image is the white projection which flickered with things like butterflies, skulls etc, and in the centre was a red russian matryoshka doll. Pretty.

This piece I really liked; it was an interactive piece called Consumer Sacrifice by Adam Hayes where you chose one object/thing that you had lost or would like to lose, and put it through a shredder in the wall, intending to liberate you from that object or that loss. It was also a reference to the consumer-driven society that led us to the recession, and letting go of the things that got us where we are now. I like that. The postcard-sized illustrations were simple pen drawings of things like "Home", "Happy Hour", "Fake" etc, like you can see in the image. I chose to shred Happy Hour because it was a cocktail and I miss drinking cocktails with my friends - I've lost out on that since moving home to where my friends are not.

This was called Tibetan Idol-16 by Gonkar Gyatso, who founded the Tibetan Art Gallery. I just liked this one because it was made up of loads of tiny kitsch stickers.

This Bird's Nest Headdress is by Shaun Leane and Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen for Swarovski Runway Rocks (quite a mouthful...) and is pretty spesh. The birds nest is solid silver, the eggs have over 4000 swarovski crystals in a lovely duck egg blue (of course) and it's all been oxidised to give the impression of an antique. It was quite mesmerising. The wings are real feathers, giving the impression they are mothering the precious eggs.

You had to sick your head in a tiny cupboard type thing to see this. It's Porporpeius by Ben Newman, who is apparently a little known water deity with severe drug use and a failed suicide attempt. Oh dear. Ben's work is ace, check it out. Really visual and arresting.

This was my favourite piece in the exhibition. It's by Adam Dant and called 'Donald Parsnips Directory of Products, 1995'. All the products illustrated originally appeared within the pages of the cultish Donald Parsnips Daily Journal 1995-99; Donald Parsnip is a creation of Dant's, and the pamphlet was handed out by him in the streets during that time. It's great, all these boxes and jars and packets of things called things like 'lisping and stumbling liquid for lamps' and 'at least 60% of this product is less than 40%'. Nonsensical products which I just love; you know how I love the idea od anything nonsensical. It was in a little room with a mirror and the walls and ceiling were just covered with these tiny illustrations. Really nice. I stayed in there for a while staring at everything.

This was a huge revolving ball/balloon type thing in the middle of the exhibition. You can't see the scale but I came up to less than halfway up it. It was called Homeless Dictator by Kinpro and didn't have any info about it. Can't really see how it fits into the 'small objects' theme, but then maybe its a juxtaposition. It's fun though.

Around the walls, which were all mirrors in this centre space, are animations by Michael Aubtin Madadi, which are lovely. Hand drawn, sad, with no dialogue, just music and hand drawn text. Things like the brief relationship between a battery and a toy are looked at. Really moving. Definitely worth putting the headphones on for and watching all of them.

These spheres of badges were cool. There's something about badges layered and layered on top of each other; really tactile, you want to touch them. I did anyway. They are called Pick Me Stick Me Lick Me by Paul Bower, who does crazy funny little characters, really nice fun work, of which some are featured on the badges. He's represented by Pocko, who helped to arrange the exhibition .More on that in a bit.

These were cool as well. Called Beyond The Sky, Beyond The Forest by Momo, which are actually little pieces of jewellry. It was tiiiny, you had to look into the cloud cut out shapes and you could see all the animal jewellry on cotton wool clouds. 'They are more like 3D illustration or wearable miniature scultpures rather than what is called jewellry". I loved them, so tiny, really kitsch, and definitely from strange fairy tales mixed with with reality and fantasy. It was fun to peer into the tiny windows.

I like small things.

All in all it was very interesting to see all these made and found objects, and elements of illustration intertwined. As I said, it was in association with Pocko, an agency/collective/publishing company that champions up and coming artists and illustrators. Here's a bit from their site:

"Pocko was founded in 1999 in London by Nicola Schwartz. Thanks to original ideas and projects it has rapidly become an internationally known company working with contemporary artists and with forward thinking brands.

Pocko’s first ground-breaking initiative was the Pocko Collection, a series of pocket size books composed by different artists which were forerunners of combining publishing with brand communication and which received an overwhelming worldwide recognition by the press and consumers alike.

Pocko’s gift has been in its ability to identify young undiscovered talents and to jointly develop, in a team format, highly original and exciting projects ranging from exhibitions to publishing programs, from unconventional marketing strategies to communication and advertising campaigns.

Pocko has so far succeeded in the complex task of identifying with the clients, their specific objectives and needs while developing brand experiences ranging from communication to product development."

Have a look round the site, it's interesting. Like it says, they also publish artist books and the such, some of which were on sale at Selfridges. Some from Daisy De Villeneuve (a personal favourite), and one I saw which made me look, called 'Dear Thank You Yours Sincerely'. It made me look because I had this exact idea the other day and couldn't believe it's already been done. Humph. "This book is a collection of 77 letters received by the artist in reply to his incessant applications over a period of three years. From these most prosaic documents a kind of bittersweet poetry emerges, a sustained and repetitive meditation on the politics and the poetics of rejection."

I thought of doing this myself because I'm starting to build up quite a collection of 'thanks but no thanks' emails from people I'm contacting about my work and placements I'm applying for, and I thought it would be interesting to collate them all together as I move forward with my illustration career. But it's been done! Oh well. Great minds. Here's the Daisy De Villeneuve one.

The nice thing about the darkness of the exhibition was it was a nice calming refuge from the madness of Selfridges. I felt a little overwhelmed as I came back out into the store and became bombarded with all the nice things there. A strange feeling; I usually love being bombarded with pretty things, being the consumer that I am, but it was strange. Somehow I managed to not buy anything. My bank account thanked me. It's not a good idea to buy stuff when you don't have a job.

I'd recommend you give it a visit; an interesting and eclectic exhibition with some fun and interesting artists. Well worth a look if you're popping in to Selfridges for a cupcake or three (Lola's are doing their Hazelnut for Haiti cupcake, 100% of proceeds go to Haiti relief fund).

1 comment:

I LIKE IT DO YOU? said...

hey..thanks for the excellent review! such great descriptions..and nice blog too!

(i write the M.O.S.T. blog but this is my personal one)