Last week marked the opening of a new exhibition at The Fan Museum in Greenwich. Nestled along a row of Georgian homes on Crooms Hill, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was just another pretty house from looking at the building’s exterior. The museum has been open since 1991 and is only a short walk away from historical Greenwich.
Inside, you’ll discover an immaculate garden, a stunning orangery which is open for afternoon tea and a museum home to thousands of fans originating from all over the world. Due to lack of space, only a handful of collections are on show at one time. The latest exhibition, Street Fans is currently on display until December 31st 2017. It features the work of 29 street artists, 1 fan maker and just over 50 fans celebrating the diverse creativity of contemporary art and the traditional craft of fan-making.
Each fan has been uniquely designed by the street artists and crafted by fan maker, Sylvain Le Guen. The artists were presented with several mediums to play with which included spray paint, acrylic, pen markers and even mixed media.
“Curvilinear tangles; precise geometric compositions; typographic scribblings evoking ancient hieroglyphics; demonic felines; buildings spinning violently around a vortex – the pleasure each artist took in creating their designs is palpable.” – The Fan Museum
All of the fans were crafted to respect the artist’s design. I have a few favourites but the one currently at the top of my list has to be Jordane Saget‘s Arabesque #2. I really love the mesmerising pattern of the fan which is not only beautiful but also has a calligraphy-like quality to it. The fan itself looks simple yet elegant, minimal yet intricate – it’s that kind of juxtaposition that I love.
Fan-making is a traditional craft that has existed for centuries however it’s becoming a craft that’s been forgotten. As the world moves into a more digital way of living, traditional craft skills such as piano, parchment and fan making are dying out and even Prince Charles himself said more needs to be done to preserve them for future generations. The Telegraph quoted Prince Charles; “traditional crafts are as much a part of our shared heritage as our wonderful historic landscapes, beautiful buildings, rare breeds of native farm animals and varied museum collections.” It’s good to hear that the Prince is also passionate about the survival of such crafts in the UK.
Some of the biggest names have worked on this project including the likes of Pure Evil, Lily Mixe, Annatomix, Sr. X, RUN, Louis Masai and many more. There’s a favourite fan for everyone – whether you’re into geometrics, pop art, optical illusions, graffiti or fine art. As long as you love art you will admire this creative collection.
What will happen to the fans after the exhibition?
The museum’s curator, Jacob Moss explains that there needed to be something more than just a financial incentive in order to get the artists to partner up on this project. So after December 31st, these stunning fans will be returning to their rightful owners, the artists. Jacob mentioned that he will try to acquire a few select pieces for the museum’s own collection but did not reveal which ones they’d be.
Once you’re done exploring the Street Fans exhibition, you can also take a look at the rest of the museum and the other fan collections including other contemporary ones and more older, traditional ones. The Fan museum is family friendly; there’s a children’s activity trail for the kids to get involved in discovering the fan collections and a small gift shop to make your visit a memorable one. The Fan Museum is closed on Mondays but open Tuesdays – Sundays.
Got a burning question for Europe’s leading fan maker, Sylvain Le Guen? Head down to Lewisham Southwark College on October 10th at 5:30pm for a special Q&A with Sylvain and The Fan Museum’s curator, Jacob Moss.
I was invited to a blogger’s launch by The Fan Museum to review the Street Fans exhibition in exchange for this blog post. All words, photos and opinions are my own. Photos that are owned by The Fan Museum have been credited respectively.