A Gallery Of Curiosities — But Are They All Real?

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 39 months ago
A Gallery Of Curiosities — But Are They All Real? ★★★★☆ 4
Drug baron Pablo Escobar imported hippos to Colombia. Did he really have one's skull gold-plated?
Drug baron Pablo Escobar imported hippos to Colombia. Did he really have one's skull gold-plated?
A recreation of the jawbone of a Megalodon - a prehistoric shark.
A recreation of the jawbone of a Megalodon - a prehistoric shark.
The skeleton of a 'wholphin' a supposed cross between a false killer whale and a dolphin. We suspect this one must be a fake.
The skeleton of a 'wholphin' a supposed cross between a false killer whale and a dolphin. We suspect this one must be a fake.
A selection of some of the memento mori and vanitas style works.
A selection of some of the memento mori and vanitas style works.
Works mocking the books that had speech bubbles on their covers.
Works mocking the books that had speech bubbles on their covers.
A humorous annotation on a painting points out that historic paintings often depict events that never happened, so why stop now?
A humorous annotation on a painting points out that historic paintings often depict events that never happened, so why stop now?

Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆

This exhibition pulls together a whole host of strange and humorous paraphernalia much like the Museum of Curiosity displayed at this gallery two years ago, but this time there's a twist. An introductory video tells us that this exhibition was selected by artists the Connor Brothers from the collection of one John Hanbury, with the support of the Peggy Irving Foundation, however if you look online you'll find that none of these people are real and it's all part of an elaborate illusion.

Stepping inside the show reveals a skeleton of a creature said to be a cross between a dolphin and a false killer whale — we suspected it was manufactured and we're still unsure now. Meanwhile in the background, a classical-style painting of angels and gods plainly references the idea that in a gallery like this you can't trust what you see to be true to life.

The show continues in this vein with a gold-plated hippo skull, rumoured to have been created by the notorious drug baron Pablo Escobar. Considering he did introduce hippos to his native Colombia, there's a possibility this could be a verifiable objects, but again, who knows for sure?  There's also a machine in the basement said to be able to create a personality profile based on your reactions to interview questions, plus curiosity-themed artworks scattered throughout the gallery.

This is a fun and ultimately cheeky exhibition that mixes truth with fiction, and will keep you guessing throughout your visit — it reminded us of the excellent Joan Fontcuberta exhibition which closed recently. The objects may not be as consistently strong as its precursor, the Museum of Curiosity, but it's still a highly enjoyable show.

Curiosities from the Hanbury Collection is on at Pertwee, Anderson & Gold, 15 Bateman Street, W1D 3AQ until 29 November. Entrance is free.

For another quirky collection, visit the recently-opened Viktor Wynd Musuem of Curiosities in Hackney. And for more art to see in London, visit our November listings.

Last Updated 11 November 2014