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Jim Moir and Northampton Museum and Art Gallery make the perfect pair.

Buckle up and step this way for the most exciting (*rubs thighs suggestively*) exhibition to hit Shoe Town in forever.

Jim Moir Daisies Romans Ones and Twos Northamtpon

Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves) has recently become almost as well-known for his art as for his comedy. He loves birds (specifically, in this context, the avian variety) and he loves shoes (we have that in common) and he paints both subjects with a sensitivity, humour and technical skill that shows off that fascination, shining like a patent leather brothel creeper.

Jim Moir Daisies Romans Ones and Twos Northampton
Paul Weller’s Shoes

Jim, for that is (one of) his name(s), got in touch with Northampton Museum and Art Gallery just a few weeks ago with the idea of exhibiting his shoe and bird paintings at the epicentre of Britain’s shoe heritage and the home of the largest collection of shoes in the world. They miraculously turned it around in no time to showcase an artist that is at once both incredibly serious and skilful, and at the same time characteristically flippant and off the cuff.

I hot footed it up to the opening night for a butchers (since we’re doing rhyming slang) at Daisies, Romans, Ones and Twos – that’s daisy roots (boots), Roman candles (sandals), and shoes – you knew that, right? – and I found nothing down at heel about this fascinating collection of work, set in the gallery’s newly revamped Central Hall.

As with so many comedians, Jim/Vic and his art embody two opposite sides of a coin, a sort of split personality: the sombre vs. the silly. But what’s refreshing is that his work isn’t just celebrity trash, it’s the real deal, bringing together wafts of Warhol’s garish naivety with the kind of meticulously detailed watercolour studies you see in serious tomes on natural history (Warhol was good at this too, but you get the picture). It’s as though Jim is undergoing a deep dive into his own conflicting inner landscapes, putting them all onto the canvas and, somehow, all those layers produce a resoundingly vibrant harmony.

Jim Moir Daisies Romans Ones and Twos Northampton

There’s a collection of some intricate watercolour studies of shoes from every era, from dandy 16th century heels and Lancashire miner’s clogs to Woolaston’s own Doc Marten’s and Vivienne Westwood-esque platforms; there are two enormous and vibrantly coloured oil paintings of moorhens in honeysuckle (Moir is a keen birder), blackbirds, owls, a series of famous feet and their shoes (Elvis Presley, Paul Weller, Jools Holland, Rod Stewart, Gene Kelly) and a rhino whose horn has transformed into an arm sticking up its middle finger in defiance and a psychic shoe vending machine.

Jim Moir Daisies Romans Ones and Twos Northampton

We heartily approve of an exhibition with such sole (geddit?). Moir gives shoes, birds and his trademark slapstick humour the platform (I’m sorry the puns keep coming) they rightly deserve and, what’s more all the artworks are up for grabs, so you can invest in some pretty gorgeous wall decor while you’re here.

Daisies, Romans, Ones and Twos is at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery until 14 August, free entry.

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