CENTREFOLD / Elvis, wart and all: South Bank's shrine to the King

'The King' may be long dead but his legend lingers on, not least in the work of artist Joni Mabe, whose installation 'Everything Elvis' hits London tomorrow. What Mabe calls her 'travelling panoramic encyclopedia of Elvis' is an attempt by the artist to capture the essence of the shy country boy from Tupelo by juxtaposing a bizarre collection of objects. The walls of the Royal Festival Hall will be covered with Elvis trivia - photographs, posters, badges and clothing related to his life and the culture which it inspired. Here are the things which truly touched Elvis's powerful aesthetic awareness: personalised car number plates, medallions and paintings on velvet. Pride of place, though, is reserved for Mabe's prized personal possessions: water from Elvis's pool, mud from his garden, a vial of his sweat and one of his warts. Welcome to the shrine of St Elvis.

It was only after Elvis's death that Mabe's obsession took hold. While at art school she was visited by The King in her dreams. He directed her towards souvenir shops and auctions and his spirit began to permeate her work. 'When Elvis died,' she says, 'I fell in love with his image. I picked up anything I could find. My mother used to say she sent me to art school to become Leonardo da Vinci and all I did was drag home junk.' Young Joni may not have given the world a contemporary Mona Lisa, but, with a truly baroque sensibility, she has definitively apotheosised one of the popular icons of our time. Mabe serves up a heady cocktail steeped in American kitsch, heavy on religious symbolism and tasteless in the extreme. The King would have loved it.

Royal Festival Hall, SE1 (071-928 8800) 23 July-29 Aug

(Photograph omitted)

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