My Paloma-fabulous sister Ellie texted to let me know that The Enchanted Palace project with Wildworks that she and Myth have been working on has attracted a rave review in the Guardian. Ellie has devoted much of her effort to the creation of The Room of Royal Secrets, telling the disturbing story of Peter the Wild Boy.
Found in the forests of Hanover, near Hamelin (the town at the centre of the Pied Piper legend), Peter was brought to London by King George I, who was also Duke of Hanover. Achieving celebrity status in an era without X-Factor, Twitter and Facebook, Peter’s life inspired Daniel Dafoe to write a book about him Mere Nature Delineated: Or a Body Without a Soul with the following subtitle:
“Being observations on the young forester lately brought to Town from Germany. With suitable applications. Also, a brief dissertation upon the usefulness and necessity of fools, whether political or natural.”
However, Roger Moorehouse, in an extensive article on Peter’s life, reminds us that the notion of fame as fleeting and cruel isn’t confined to this era of d-list stars and throwaway magazines:
“Peter quickly became a celebrity. On one level, tales of his antics busied the London gazettes. Jonathan Swift, whose fictional ‘Yahoos’ Peter appeared to personify, noted sourly that “there is scarcely talk of anything else”… But Peter could not to live up to the popular interest invested in him and a fickle public quickly abandoned him in favour of the next unfortunate.”
In the peculiar way of things related to that other world of monarchs and royal households, Peter, now living an anonymous life away from the city, remained looked after. As Moorehouse writes: “His keep was paid by the Crown for nearly 60 years, through three reigns, and, when he died, a brass tablet was erected to his memory at royal expense.”
Ellie has essentially been creating a den, the sort of place Peter might have lived in and sought comfort in when retreating from a world of courtesans and pages, princes and princesses:
Writing in Friday’s Guardian, Amy Stone is well aware of the long-standing tensions between fashion and art, yet is bold in her assessment of the success of The Enchanted Palace:
“The show also (whisper it) makes for fantastic art: ghostly, ethereal and layered with subtext. These are museum pieces created for an exhibition true to the conviction that high fashion and high drama go hand in hand. Curators should take note: no more dutiful dusting down of designer archives, please. Fashion’s very essence is living, breathing and moving – something its art shows should cotton on to.”
The Guardian also wrote about The Enchanted Palace on 25 March, after the press preview, describing what visitors to the rooms will encounter and how they can interact with this immense creation of Wildworks and co.
I can’t wait to go.