ian (sparkle_debacle) wrote,

I love the Victoria and Albert

As you saw in my last entry (not counting the oeufs), I went to London the week before last. Besides going to that concert, I went for a fine day at Kew Gardens, and another fine day at my beloved Victoria and Albert museum (or the V&A for short). I always fine much to beguile me there, no matter how many times I go there. Whereas the National Gallery is my favourite museum/gallery in London, I already feel like I know it inside out, but the V&A keeps on giving of its plenty, ever-changing displays and all. And besides, while the National Gallery has awe-inspiring works of pictorial genius (I associate it most with Holbein's "Ambassadors"), the Victoria and Albert has objects ranging from works of that level of inspiration down to stuff that somehow seems of more practical instruction to the artist who cannot dream of ever scaling those Olympian heights. Planned as a museum to educate the British worker, artisan and craftsperson in the art of design, whatever field they worked in, to make the country and all its buildings and objects beautiful. So it's full of things that just set ideas ticking in my head that can be applied to the comics page, or to applied arts. And yet it also has lots of Rodin statues, (cast of some of his major works, and some less well known) which I spent a long time gazing at and sketching. Also had a long look at the Raphael tapestry cartoons. I am no fan of Raphael, but I respect his achievement, and am impressed that these huge, full coloured works of distemper on paper survive and can be seen in a free London museum (displayed majestically in a very quiet, the crowds that usually gather around important High Renaissance works conspicuously absent).

I went to all three exhibitions that were on. The  interactive "Decode: Digital sensations" exhibition was interesting. The "Horace Walpole: Strawberry Hill", was not too impressive, (second rate artefacts and paintings from the famous dilletante's collection) though it suggested that a visit to the actual Strawberry Hill might be more so. But the major exhibition was the wonderful quilts exhibition. It contained many curious and beautiful quilts from the last three hundred years, interspersed with some specially commissioned ones by modern artists. 
ere's one called The ABC of courtship:

Here's one by one Ann West from 1820:
It is a coincidence that these two postcards that happened to be on sale in the shop happen to have a similar colour scheme and style. Really, this was one of the most varied of exhibitions, with constant surprises. I highly recommend it to everyone.

Spending most of the day at the V & A, I had refreshments in the William Morris-designed room, sketching all the while. This and the adjacent Gamble and Poynter rooms were the first museum restaurant in the world. I was excited to eat in the William Morris room, surprised that, far from having to pay extra to eat there, it was actually almost empty as most people chose to eat in the modern white-walled corridor amid more light. It was indeed dark in there, but very stately.

while I was in Kensington, I also had a look at 1a Scarsdale Villas, former home of Michael Flanders and setting of this monologue. It was a very nice street, but there was no Pembroke Arms, no mind-bogglingly steep camber nor any bite taken out of the pavement. Most shocking of all, no blue plaque. Then I went to see the exhibition of Richard Hamilton political art at the Serpentine gallery in the middle of Kensington gardens (which meant I did the Kensington-Kew double). The exhibition was mostly very disappointing, though politically laudable. I poked my head in the National History Museum but went straight out again, not enough mental energy left by that point
Tags: art, craft, rodin
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