Captain Kris Typography.
Captain Kris Typography.
Artista's signature flowers.
Artista's signature flowers.
Nosbé detail: figures, faces and plants.
Nosbé detail: figures, faces and plants.

Street Fans at the Fan Museum, Greenwich, London

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Kids in Museums volunteer Phillipa Ellis reviews the quick and family-friendly exhibition connecting fans and international street art.

My children and I have always enjoyed street art. It’s free, colourful and an accessible way to enjoy art by a diverse range of artists. It encourages a closer look at the world around them, questioning the message behind what they see, and why their street has been chosen to voice it.

To my surprise, the elegant Fan Museum in the royal borough of Greenwich (on a quiet street, adjacent to the park!) was throwing open its doors to showcase the results of its recent collaboration, with an art form whose roots have long been planted in rebellion.

Fan making is now a dying art and is at risk of losing its practice, so this exhibition was devised to draw more than a few parallels between the two ‘outsider’ art forms. It fuses the outspoken, anti-establishment nature of street art with the cooler and concealer of the upper tranches of society, the elegant and the gentry.

The Grade II listed Georgian townhouse definitely doesn’t feel like a child’s domain, with its near-silent entrance, complete with plush furnishings and intricate cornice. However, the staff are friendly, and there is baby changing on the ground floor disabled toilet, and accompanied lift access (on request) to the cosy first-floor gallery.

The exhibition spans two small rooms and features 54 fans, created by one fan-maker (Sylvain Le Guen) and a 29-strong cast of international street artists including Pure Evil, Louis Masai, and RUN. 

Work is housed safely behind glass cabinets, the main one of which is floor to ceiling glass, meaning that little ones can see plenty of the exhibits for themselves without you having to keep picking them up. The other cabinets will require viewers to be more than 4ft tall.

Colours and styles are striking and varied, ranging from abstract to geometry, figurative and conceptual. Among our favourites were Artista’s colourful flowers and Nosbés alien-like faces, Captain Kris’s vibrant pop-art lettering and Louis Masai’s fan dedicated to endangered bees.

Each exhibit has a short but sweet blurb.

There is also a number of activity trails (perfect for children aged 3+) encouraging visitors to spot detail and designs, note artists and list facts. Without this, parents would struggle to hold the attention of younger children, especially with the repetitive nature of the display (i.e. each fan being similar in structure, if not appearance).

There are live paint jam and fan making workshops, school sessions and a community day in November.

The exhibition is unlikely to take you more than half an hour, so you can also check out the permanent collection or explore the beautiful Japanese Garden just outside the Orangery, which serves afternoon tea (pre-booking advised).

Street Fans: A Unique Liaison between Street Art and Fan Making is at The Fan Museum until 31st December. Admission:  Adults: £4, Children (under 7): Free, Children (7-16): £3, concessions available. Opening times: Tues-Sat 11am-5pm, Sun 12-5pm, Closed Monday.

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