Last week we visited the latest and possibly the last exhibition at the Museum of Everything.
This show was based on Peter Blake’s extraordinary collection assembled throughout his career.
Amongst the array of fascinating objects and images we were most looking forward to the taxidermy marvels of Walter Potter.
Walter Potter had created a museum in Sussex to install his complex tableaux, after his death the family continued to operate the museum before eventually selling it in the 1970’s. After passing through a number of owners it eventually came up for auction (which is where Peter Blake acquired a number for his own collection) and was broken up, much to the dismay of Damian Hirst who had offered £1 million in the hope of keeping the collection together.
Fi had been a fan of this Victorian eccentric for many years but I was quite new to him.
At first the concept of stuffing dead animals is quite an odd preoccupation – giving them human attributes and arranging them into social scenarios takes it to a very different level.
Maybe time to call for the nurse? Or is there more to it?
The presentation of animal/human characteristics is ingrained into our psyche from an early age – most fairy tales include animals with human personalities. Helping us to explore and come to terms with the structure, rules, hopes and fears of our society.
But the emergence of the late nineteenth/early twentieth century interest in the’psychological self’ and the birth of surrealism provide a whole new interpretation on Potter’s work.
The Possible psychological readings suggested by potter’s tableaux allow for darkly comic visions of our own experiences and the way we navigate the world around us.
As you can see from the example of our work on the right, Walter Potter has proved an important influence on our own work.