‘Part hallucinatory, part biblical’: Untitled, date unknown by Marcel Storr, a Paris road-sweeper who died in 1976 leaving a hoard of dazzlingly detailed drawings in coloured ink and varnish. Photograph: © Liliane et Bertrand Kempf
The Alternative Guide to the Universe may sound like another of those fun-filled summer shows at which the Hayward Gallery excels – mirrored mazes, crooked houses, cinemas and boating ponds erected for your pleasure on the roof. It’s exactly the opposite. The exhibition presents the visions of 22 people who have imagined another universe, or another way of living in this one, in fantastic detail. The experience is by turns bewildering, charming and oppressive.
Unclassifiable work by unorthodox thinkers: that might be one way of describing the enterprise. Here is an unlicensed architect designing a cathedral composed of every medieval ornament known to man as a symbolic representation of his mother. Here is a dentist-cum-inventor whose system for intergalactic travel is set out in beautiful watercolours in the tradition of William Blake.