Jarvis Cocker curates a new exhibition in London based on his 90s Outsider Art series Journeys to the Outside

By Ben Miller | 25 September 2016 | Updated: 23 September 2016

Jarvis Cocker is revisiting his Channel 4 Outsider Art series, Journeys to the Outside, in a new exhibition for The Gallery of Everything

a photo of the musician jarvis cocker standing inside an exhibition
© Joas Souza, courtesy The Gallery of Everything
In 1998, as the embers of Britpop were fizzling, Jarvis Cocker was halfway up a brightly-coloured hill known as Salvation Mountain. He’d followed the ragged truck of Leonard Knight, an affable New England artist who’d wanted to launch his handmade 200-foot hot air balloon, inscribed with the words ‘God is Love’.

a photo of a red and white gallery called the gallery of everything in a barber shop
© Joas Souza, courtesy The Gallery of Everything
Knight failed, instead deciding to paint the giant message on a nearby hill in the Colorado Desert. “I was never an artist before at all,” Cocker was told by Knight, whose death in 2014, at the age of 82, left behind a monument once feared by the authorities for its supposed toxicity.

a photo of a piece of abstract outsider art
Chomo (Roger Chomeaux), Mutant à Deux Visages (Mutant with Two Faces) (date unknown)© Courtesy The Gallery of Everything
The sandal-and-sunhat wearing singer was enamoured: despite his filming commitments, he stayed late with the artist, and was seen off with a song. “People didn’t make them for any glory or recognition they might get for it,” Cocker told the viewers of his Journeys to the Outside series on Channel 4.

“They made them because they got such a kick out of what they were doing, they really couldn’t help themselves.”

a photo of a piece of abstract outsider art
WC Rice, Sin in Hell Sex© Courtesy The Gallery of Everything
The connection has clearly endured if the new exhibition he has co-curated, in homage to the TV show, is anything to go by.

The Gallery of Everything is set inside a former barber’s shop in London, aiming to communicate an alternative history of art to a wide audience, with works of various prices on sale in support of the non-profit Museum of Everything.

a photo of a piece of abstract outsider art
Aloïse Corbaz, Carrousel fait toumer la tête, La Barque du Rêve (1951-1960)© Courtesy The Gallery of Everything
The artists include Nek Chand, the self-taught Indian who is perhaps best known for creating the 18-acre rock sculpture garden in Chandigarh, and St Eom, a headdress-wearing self-named visionary from Georgia responsible for a seven-acre artscape featuring a late 19th century farmhouse (one of six buildings) and more than 2,000 paintings, sculptures and drawings.

a photo of a piece of abstract outsider art
Howard Finster, Untitled (WHEN SKY LAMBS TURN TO LiONS iT.S. TIME TO RE BREED THE FLOCK) (1980)© Courtesy The Gallery of Everything
Howard Finster – another Georgian who also, in his religiosity, bore commonalities with Knight – claimed a higher calling drove his folk art sculpture garden, which contained 46,000 pieces of art.

a photo of a piece of abstract outsider art
Scottie Wilson, Untitled (1955)© Courtesy The Gallery of Everything
The links with music don’t end with Cocker, either: Finster created album art for REM and, in the cover for the sixth Talking Heads album, 1985’s Little Creatures, a Rolling Stone album artwork of the year.

a photo of a piece of abstract outsider art
Adolf Wölfli, Fliehe Vohr Der Sünde (1928)© Courtesy The Gallery of Everything
If the gallery can condense all this expansiveness into a humble hairdresser’s, it might claim some of the divine inspiration several of its artists once called upon.

  • See The Gallery of Everything at Frieze Masters 2016, Regent's Park, London, October 6 – 9. They will be exploring Jean Dubuffet’s groundbreaking 1947 le Foyer de l’Art Brut as part of Sir Norman Rosenthal’s Collections section of the fair.
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