Review: Alternative Guide to the Universe

When I heard there was an exhibition about art and science at Hayward (one of my favourite galleries in London, nay, the world), I thought great – I love art and I’ve certainly clicked ‘Like’ on I Fucking Love Science – I assumed I knew what I was in for. On closer inspection, I found out that it was about a different kind of science, where ‘alternative’ was certainly the operative word.

More about belief than science, the exhibition ‘surveys an artistic landscape that stretches to the far horizons of our imagination’. With artwork placed somewhere between religion and fantasy, we are guided through theories and experiments by the untrained (often deemed as crack-pot by contemporaries), now bundled together as a form of Outsider Art.

It’s hard to determine just how much some of these artists believed their own theories, and how much was play, experimentation, or some kind of therapy. Ionel Talpazan believed his drawing of flying saucers would be a vital aid to NASA, whereas Morton Bartlett’s eerily lifelike dolls seemed to come of some sort of obsession with young girls growing up and the perfect families portrayed in the advertising of the time.

A nice addition to the exhibition is a guest appearance from The Museum of Everything; a wandering exhibition for all things untrained and therefore deem unofficial. Here we see sculpture by Sri Nek Chand Saini, creator of the legendary Rock Garden of Chandigarh, India.

Alternative Guide to the Universe is on at Hayward Gallery until Monday 26th August.

Image: Courtesy of Hayward Gallery