Jeremy Deller: Joy in People

I had to blog about this amazing exhibition because it ends on Sunday! Hurry hurry hurry to the Hayward Gallery to see ‘Joy in People’ by Jeremy Deller, the best thing I’ve seen in a gallery in ages.

How true

Jeremy Deller is the guy behind the big bouncy model of Stonehenge which is coming to London for the Olympics, but also other things you’ve probably heard of like the Acid Brass project (getting brass bands to play Acid House tunes – there’s a massive reproduction in the exhibition of a sort of mind map he drew to explain the links between the two. Did I take a picture? Er, no but you can see it here)

Apparently the exhibition title wasn’t his choice, but it sums up the experience perfectly. There’s a pervading atmosphere of interested-ness, of curiosity and affection for people and the odd and beautiful things they do.

You enter into a replica of an exhibition he held in his bedroom in his parent’s house while they were away (they didn’t find out until ten years later, when they saw it in one of his books…) It’s so great, down to the slightly manky carpet, single bed, and built-in wardrobes.

Next door there’s a toilet displaying graffiti that nhe copied down from the Gents at the British Library in the mid-90s. I am a fellow connoisseur of toilet graffiti (if that doesn’t make me sound too weird), especially the ruminations of academics who have spent too long researching obscure books and perhaps have slightly lost it. Example below:

There’s a replica of a Bury snack bar called Valerie’s, where you can have a (free) cup of tea and sit in classic red perspex cafe seats.

I could write all day about this, but here are some of my other highlights in bullet form instead to save boring you:

  • A film of 3D bats!
  • Loads of old copies of the NME from the early 90s which brought back happy memories of my own pile, which my mum threw away when I went to university (quite rightly, they were a manky fire hazard)
  • Young people sitting and quietly reading under a huge banner reading ‘I heart Melancholy’ (all part of the exhibition)
  • A fascinating film about his reconstruction of the Battle of Orgreave
  • Tons of amazing banners made by his long-term collaborator Ed Hall
  • A whole corner dedicated to Failures – projects that never got off the ground

The few negative comments I’ve read about this exhibition mention that the subject matter is too scattered and diverse, but that’s why I adored it. There’s so much interesting stuff going on, and what connects it all is his attitude of curiosity.

If you do go to the Hayward make sure you go upstairs to the free bit, where there’s a documentary film about Depeche Mode fans which is fascinating, hilarious, and sad.

ALSO it’s only £10, which includes the David Shrigley exhibition upstairs which is also v good.

Also, when you get out and wait for your bus on Waterloo Bridge, you can admire the Brutalist concrete cube that is the National Theatre, described by Prince Charles as ‘”a clever way of building a nuclear power station in the middle of London without anyone objecting” (yes and I love it)

Well worth a tenner.


5 thoughts on “Jeremy Deller: Joy in People

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  2. Chuck May 13, 2012 / 5:05 PM

    I haven’t been to the exhibition but I can’t help but nod every time I walk past the banner! x

  3. Dana Jennings May 11, 2012 / 6:37 PM

    did W Somerset Maugham set up the initial seed money for the National Theatre?

    • yesilikethat May 13, 2012 / 8:05 PM

      I don’t know I’m afraid, interesting if true though!

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