Paw-formance art: canine capers abound at celebrity-studded Myatt's Field Dog Show in South London

Russell Tovey, Louisa Buck and Julie Verhoeven Courtesy of Louisa Buck

Russell Tovey, Louisa Buck and Julie Verhoeven Courtesy of Louisa Buck

The Buck stopped here

The Buck stopped here is a weekly blog by our contemporary art correspondent Louisa Buck covering the hottest events and must-see exhibitions in London and beyond

They say that every dog has its day, and those owned by some of the London art world's luminaries certainly had theirs last Saturday at the Myatt’s Field Dog Show in South London, where art and community blended with canine capers.

The show was the brainchild of Myatt’s Field resident Linsey Young who, as well as being the owner of a pair of Scottish Terriers named Bruce and Bunny, is also curator of contemporary British art at Tate. Her many projects include leading the Turner Prize, as well as curating Anthea Hamilton’s performance installation The Squash at Tate Britain’s Duveens Gallery in 2018.

Russell Tovey, Linsey Young and Louisa Buck Courtesy of Louisa Buck

The artist Laura Aldridge designed all the highly distinctive Dog Show posters and judging the eight categories—which included Cutest Puppy, Golden Oldie, Best Dressed, Most Like Owner, Most Obedient, Most Disobedient and Talent Show—was Russel Tovey, actor, curator and Turner Prize judge. Tovey is also Dog Dad to French bulldog Rocky and co-Dad to beagles Cooper and Archie.

Assisting him was artist, designer, all-round fashion maven and South Londoner Julie Verhoeven, resplendent in an outfit designed by Scott King.

And attempting with varying degrees of success to prevent the capers from descending into canine chaos was your own correspondent—Dog Show compère, Myatt’s Field resident for more than two decades and the owner of Samson, a sprightly ten-year-old Cockerpoo.

Helena Reckitt and Adrian Searle Photo: Laura Castagnini

Among those competing furiously for a covetable set of doggie trophies specially created by artist and designer Dylan Atkins was the Guardian’s chief art critic Adrian Searle, who picked up a third prize rosette in the Most Disobedient Dog category with his whippet poodle cross Mabel. Searle's partner, the feminist scholar and scribe Helena Reckitt, unfortunately had less luck with their other hound Ripley in the Most Obedient section. An honourable mention is also due to the Buck's pooch Samson, who picked up a third prize on account of his similarity (mainly in the hair department) to your correspondent's daughter Nancy Dewe Mathews, presenter of the Now Nancy cultural programme on Soho Radio.

Samson (left) and Nancy Dewe Mathews Courtesy of Louisa Buck

Not entering but keenly observing were artists Anthea Hamilton and Nicholas Byrne; Clarrie Wallis, Tate’s senior curator of Modern British and contemporary art; Melissa Blanchflower, exhibitions curator at the Serpentine; Victoria Siddall, global director of Frieze and her daughter Margot.

Beyond the art world, the event was also a huge success, raising more than £2,000 at time of writing (it’s still being counted) for the park and local charities. “It was the happiest day of my life and a testament to all the friendships made in the community during all those lockdown dog walks in the park,” says Linsey Young, who has been asked by the park to make the Myatts Field Dog Show an annual fixture for future August Bank Holiday Saturdays. “It’s going to be even bigger and better next year,” she says. Art-worlders and South Londoners, save the date.


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