With a breath-taking cricket match involving England, the Men’s Final at Wimbledon, England’s women’s netball team in an international tournament and another Lewis Hamilton Grand Prix win all happening, there was still only one place to be on Super Sunday and that was Southwark Park Galleries for the opening of Dog Show, an exhibition with none of the elitism that comes with the above sports, but an art show for everyone and their dog. Literally. Southwark Park Galleries explicitly want dogs to visit and have a doggy good time, writes Michael Holland.

For the next few weeks both galleries will be a Pooch Paradise as Dog Show puts mutts on a pedestal in what is believed to be the first art show of its kind. Lucien Freud, Brian Catling, Martin Creed, David Shrigley and Vic & Bob are just a few of those involved in this exhibition spread across the two Southwark Park galleries that have been given over to everything canine. And what a show it is, I’ve not seen so many dogs in one place since the riot in Cell Block H of the local dog pound.

And there were some real beauties on display, the dogs were attracting as much attention as the artwork with humans complimenting other humans’ pets, and the dogs showing their appreciation by sniffing at anything in sight.

In the Dilston Grove gallery a number of videos were being screened. One showed two people giving theatrical performances for dogs in their homes, with the animal audience initially looking alarmed and then indifferent. But if two strangers were acting odd in my home I’d be the same. Another video had an owner give his dog a spelling lesson, and at the far end on a large screen Martin Creed’s Work No. 670, Orson and Sparky, 2007 played. Other dog art lined the walls. 

In the main gallery I thought I’d crashed a Battersea Dogs’ Home reunion party. I recognised a Basset Hound but the remainder seemed to be of the modern mongrel type; funny breeds such as Peke-a-doodle and Wire Haired Sausage Dog, but even with the interbreeding they all knew how to behave in an art gallery. Not so their owners who stood right in front of the artworks and discussed the merits of Pedigree Chum!

Highlights of the show for me was David Shrigley’s Hello There video and the stuffed animals that lay around both galleries looking as comfortable as their real counterparts. But the stars really were the dogs that visited and enjoyed their very own Dog Show.

Take yourself and your dog along. You won’t regret it.

Dog Show is on at Southwark Park Galleries, 1 Park Approach, Southwark Park, London, SE16 2UA until 8 September 2019. Thur – Sun 11pm – 5pm. Admission: Free. Phone: 020 7237 1230


Photos: Michael Holland