Remember When They Played Cricket In The Somerset House Courtyard?

The Learned Society of Extra Ordinary Objects, Somerset House ★★★★☆

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 15 months ago

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Remember When They Played Cricket In The Somerset House Courtyard? The Learned Society of Extra Ordinary Objects, Somerset House 4
Who's been lying?

Do you remember a time when cricket was played in the courtyard of Somerset House? A frying pan was used in place of a bat, and the aim was to smash as many windows as possible. The story of these matches sits alongside a trophy on display in an exhibition at Somerset House, complete with frying pan wielding batsmen atop it. If the historical tale doesn't sound right, it's because the story isn't true. While the trophy does physically exist, it's a recent creation.

Welcome to The Learned Society of Extra Ordinary Objects. The society never existed, but a whole history has been concocted for it, including doctored portraits of previous members including singer James Brown — learn about his alternative life as a closet cabinet maker.

All the famous members of the fictional society. You've got to smile at how crudely they've been altered.

30 contemporary designers have now been appointed as fellows of this society and invited to create objects with fantastical stories behind them. We learn how a teddy bear travelled to Dalston via East Berlin, we see a gin bar on skis for when the Thames froze over, and there's a rock that has its own phone number — find out what happens when you dial it. There are dozens of objects in this exhibition, and each has its own surreal story behind it.

The show is so tongue-in-cheek and conceptually clever that it's hard not to walk around without a permanent smile on your face.

The Learned Society of Extra Ordinary Objects is on at Somerset House, Terrace Rooms until 3 September. Entrance is free.

Last Updated 29 July 2017