The other day All Change Please! gathered together some of its chums and went along to the latest and delightfully deserted exhibition at the Hayward Gallery on London’s South Bank. Now regular readers will doubtless recall that last summer All Change Please! presented Invisible Learning, which described a virtual exhibition it had curated, based on the Hayward Gallery’s 2012 ‘Invisible Art’ exhibition. This Summer’s show at the Hayward is called The Alternative Guide to the Universe, and, based around Richard Dorment’s entirely sensible review in The Daily Telegraph, All Change Please! is again proud to present its annual alternative alternative virtual blockbuster exhibition: The Alternative Guide to Learning
According to the Hayward Gallery website, The Alternative Guide to the Universe “explores the work of self-taught artists and architects, fringe physicists and visionary inventors, all of whom offer bracingly unorthodox perspectives on the world we live in. Taken together, their work conjures a kind of a parallel universe where ingenuity and inventiveness trump common sense and received wisdom.” Or to put it another way, essentially the contributors are all completely stark raving bonkers, but somehow their creativity manages to joyously explode out into the gallery.
Just like The Hayward’s artworks that have been created by ‘gentle, well-meaning and creative souls‘, so All Change Please!’s Alternative Guide to Learning show has been created by gentle, well-meaning and creative teachers – no Marxist Enemies of Promise here. Taken together, their work conjures a kind of a parallel universe where ingenuity and inventiveness trump common sense and received wisdom and produce a truly creative approach to an appropriate 21st Century education. All Change Please! hopes you’ll all enjoy the show.
On display at the Hayward Gallery are James Carter‘s wonderfully intricate models, diagrams, charts and drawings based on his theory that gravity is an illusion caused by the doubling of the earth’s size every 19 minutes. Meanwhile at The Alternative Guide to Learning‘s virtual exhibition, a fringe physics teacher has used similar materials to represent his theory that learning is a similar illusion caused by doubling the size of his class every 19 minutes.
Back at the Hayward, French civil engineer Jean Perdrizet exhibits a machine he designed that he was convinced enabled him to communicate with the dead in an invented language he called ‘Sidereal Esperanto.’ Meanwhile in The Alternative Guide to Learning a modern languages teacher exhibits a language lab that he was convinced enabled him to communicate with children in an invented language he called ‘Unreal French’.
According to Richard Dorment in the Telegraph, recluse Emery Blagdon may ‘have been on the right track when he sought to harness the curative powers of electricity, but he definitely wasted the last 30 years of his life building a healing machine featuring long strings of thin wire festooned with ribbons, butterflies, brackets, spokes and gears‘. Similarly at The Alternative Guide to Learning, a D&T teacher might have been on the right track when he sought to harness the creative powers of woodwork, but wasted the last 30 years of his life building a ribbon organiser container holder box device featuring thin wood festooned with ribbons and internal brackets, spokes and gears.
In the Hayward‘s exhibition we see Morton Bartlett‘s ‘meticulously detailed plaster dolls of children, each half the size of life, anatomically complete, and dressed in clothes he designed and made himself’. The dolls have realistic faces that express fear, misery, sensuality, and distress and are photographed ‘in a way that is so lifelike that you sometimes have to look twice to determine that these are not real children‘.
But in All Change Please!’s exhibition we see a PE mistress’s plaster dolls of children’s faces expressing fear, misery, sensuality, and distress at the thought of having to partake in a cross-country run in the pouring rain. However, on looking twice at the photographs the viewer realises that these are indeed real children.
Meanwhile Richard Dorment wonders if it matters ‘that Parisian street cleaner Marcel Storr’s intricate designs for fantastic buildings rendered in coloured inks on paper were intended to be used for the rebuilding of Paris after a nuclear attack’? Accordingly in its exhibition All Change Please! wonders if indeed it matters that an art teacher’s intricate designs for fantastic buildings somewhere nice and warm, rendered in coloured inks on paper, were intended to be used for the rebuilding of her school after an arson attack by former pupils?
Back at the Hayward are Canadian Richard Greaves‘ buildings that move and sway with the wind, constructed using rope and twine to represent a living organism. At The Alternative Guide to Learning we see Michael Gove’s school buildings that also move and sway with the wind, constructed using rope and twine to represent a living hell (and to save money and ensure rich architects do not receive any awards).
In the Telegraph, Dorment wisely advises that to see the Hayward exhibition properly we need to ‘spend some time interrogating each art work, determining, among other things, the sanity of the artist or inventor and how that affects our understanding of his or her work‘.
Likewise at the Alternative Guide to Learning we are strongly advised to spend some time interrogating each teacher during parents’ evening, determining his or her sanity and how that affects the children’s understanding of their homework. You don’t have to be mad to be a teacher, but it probably helps.
Admission to All Change Please!‘s virtual exhibition is free and it is always open to all, but if you want to grow up to be a politician, journalist, lawyer or solicitor, better results might be obtained by paying the termly fee to attend a private view.
Meanwhile a visit to the real Guide to the Universe exhibition at the Hayward Gallery is highly recommended. Better still, take some school-children with you and let them discover that Art and Design is not just about analysing creative intentions and making formal responses to given briefs using the visual elements, but enabling their imaginations, passions and aspirations to run riot.
Flickr Image credits: with thanks to the following, in order from the top of the post downwards.