Believe It Or Not, Ripleys Has An Impressive Art Collection

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 24 months ago
Believe It Or Not, Ripleys Has An Impressive Art Collection
This 6ft tall pagoda made from jade is impressively detailed

Most Londoners think of Ripley's Believe It Or Not! as a tourist trap. Its exclamation mark and high ticket prices are enough to put many natives off.

But the top floor is dedicated to art and it's actually quite impressive.

The art is in keeping with the style of Ripley's in that it's easily accessible. But that doesn't prevent the works from being labours of love.

Tower Bridge made from matchsticks or a pagoda carved from solid jade may seem gimmicky, but both must have taken a lot of hard work to create. We also found ourselves picking up on some subtle details within a landscape painted in a minute.

This isn't as far removed from fine art as some may think, there is plenty of work in galleries of 'things made from other things'. Royal Academician David Mach has created plenty of wire hanger animals and celebrity heads made from matchsticks.

The argument for fine art is that the material used to make the work has a deeper meaning behind it. For example when Chris Ofili used elephant dung is his The Holy Virgin Mary he was making a point of contrasting the sacred with the profane.

But this depth also exists in Ripley's. A painting of Kate Middleton has been made by an artist repeatedly kissing the work while wearing red lipstick. Is this a comment on the seemingly bizarre affection some people hold towards a monarchy they don't know personally? There's nothing on the description to suggest it is, but it would be a valid interpretation.

We were expecting something unpleasant and tacky from Ripley's, and there's plenty of that. But the art collection is sizeable and genuinely surprised us.

A Tower Bridge made from matchsticks must have taken a long time to make.

Entrance to Ripley's Believe It Or Not! starts at £20.21 for adults, concessions available.

Last Updated 29 February 2016