Following my visit to the fantastic Museum of Everything last year, I had been eagerly anticipating going back to check out the latest show at their Primrose Hill venue - and when I went along last weekend, I certainly wasn't disappointed. The simply-titled Exhibition #3 is a charming celebration of the British folk tradition with all the nostalgic, whimsical and slightly discomfiting appeal of an old-fashioned fun fair ride.
Co-curated by Sir Peter Blake, most of the works that make up this cornocopia of artefacts and artworks come from his own personal collection, in a show that according to Blake himself is 'about wanting to share everything'. Amongst the works on display is a recreation of Walter Potter's Museum of Curiosities, featuring a selection of weird and wonderful dioramas peopled by taxidermied squirrels, kittens and birds. Gaudy music hall and vaudeville memorabilia, Punch and Judy puppets, photographs of Victorian circus performers and kooky seaside souvenirs also have their place in this multicoloured assemblage, which like the previous exhibitions I've seen by the Museum of Everything, offers an utterly refreshing alternative to the slick sophistication of the 'white cube' gallery. The exhibition is accompanied by a lively events programme: the day I visited there was a live taxidermy demonstration (though I was frankly too squeamish to watch it) as well as hula-hooping, accordian music and a host of other quirky performances.
Although this show is similar in both feel and approach to the Museum of Everything's previous exhibition - a fascinating survey of outsider art - at heart, Exhibition #3 is quite a different project, taking its lead from one of Britain's best known and most established artists. But though the exhibition itself is arguably rather less ambitious, what I still love about the Museum of Everything is its distinctive atmosphere - visiting is quite simply an enormously enjoyable experience.
Exhibition #3 closes on 24 December, but I'm sure we haven't seen the last of the Museum of Everything. And I for one, am eagerly anticipating whatever they do next.