diamond geezer

 Monday, February 03, 2014

Jeremy Deller: English Magic
William Morris Gallery
(18th January - 30th March 2014)

Fresh from its appearance representing the nation at last year's Venice Biennale, the first stop for Jeremy Deller's eclectic exhibition is deepest Walthamstow. There is good reason, which is that the largest exhibit features a painting of William Morris, who once lived here, and whose home is now an award winning museum. That's still open as usual, and well worth a visit as ever, but with Deller's commission scattered all around. Morris appears on the ground floor, hurling Roman Abramovich's luxury yacht into a lagoon, like you do. Meanwhile the photo above was taken at the top of the main stairs and shows a trio of campaign banners carried at a fictional anti-banking demo, their designs based on tax avoidance flow charts. Alongside is a portrait of Dr David Kelly and various soldiery scenes from Iraq and Afghanistan, as painted by prisoners of war in the UK. This isn't the usual art that Britain exhibits abroad for foreign approval, but maybe it slips down a little better in E17.

The main attraction on the top landing is the video English Magic, a jarring segue of tradition and decline, backed by two great pieces of music. One is a money-related Bond theme, the other 80s rave classic Voodoo Ray reimagined by a steel band, which I loved. On screen birds of prey fly past an upland lake, soldiers ride armoured vehicles through the City of London (at the Lord Mayor's Show), and smiling kids cartwheel across Deller's bouncy inflatable Stonehenge. Four-year-old Zak sat patiently and watched the entire fourteen minutes twice because he was transfixed by the sequence where a pair of cars get unceremoniously crushed. You can watch the video here, if Walthamstow's mini-exhibition isn't on your immediate agenda. Or simply sit back and enjoy listening to the magnificent Ooh-oo-hoo ah-ha ha-yea all by itself.

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