Sunday, January 01, 2012

Visit to the V&A Museum

Today, l went to the exhibition "Power of Making" at the Victoria & Albert Museum ("V&A"), in South Kennsington, London.  To say l was one of a few people visiting would be an understatement, the museum was, as all the eating places around were, bursting at the seams! The first image is of the museum itself, a wonderful looking building, with an amazing, very impressive main entrance.

Once inside, you are faced with this wonderful steel structure. Hanging down from the ceiling is one of Chihuly glass sculptures.

The "Power of Making" Exhibition is free to view but there is a queuing system in place. You are told you can take images of the first sculpture....this amazing gorilla is entitled "King Silver" and is made of hand-twisted wire. The artist is David Mach, he is English and this was made in 2011. 
"Every element resembles an everyday clothes hanger but together they accumulate into an image of dramatic power."


The exhibition was set up so there was no definite "walking" route, which worked well as the space was full of adults with a lot of young children. 
Quote from the exhibition information: 
"The Power of Making" is an exhibition about the breadth and depth of Craft's presence in the modern world. The featured objects have been selected to highlight both age-old skills and contemporary techniques, from tradional stone walls to machines that can make other machines".

Quote from the Guest Curator, Daniel Charney:
"Making is the most powerful way that we solve problems, express ideas and shape our world. What and how we make defines who we are, and communicates who we want to be". 
The first piece that caught my eye was a "Laboratory grown tote bag" by Suzanne Lee, who is British and a Senior Reasearch fellow at Central St. Martins. From what l can understand,  she uses the growth potiential of microbes to create cellulose shapes in a large vat filled with..wait for it...sugar and green tea! Suzanne then moulds and stitches them into finished pieces of clothing. The methods used to "make" the items are fermentation, wet moulding and oxidation. All l can say is...WOW!

In the Exhibiton, there were several objects that had been scaled up or down, which, as the notes say, "is not as straightforward as it seems".  In this section is a "Knitted Arun Rug"  created by Christien Meinderlsmia from The Netherlands in 2011. It was hand-made using huge, wooden knitting needles and the wool from 18, sheared Merino sheep! The artist wanted to draw people's attention to the animals that provide us with objects we use everyday. The wooden needles were made by the artist herself and she said that, after a while, she started to understand how they worked together with the wool. Soon, she started to use her fingers to knit ! The rug was HUGE!
As some of you are Quilters, l thought you may find the next item interesting. It is called "Quilts in Women's Lives 11"and was created by an American artist called Sabrina Gschwantner in 2009. This was "made" by using celluloid film, either her own or early feminist documentaries on textile crafts. She then bleaches, paints, scratches, dyes and finally uses polyamide and/or cotton thread to sew it all together. I can tell you that it really did look like a fabric quilt..amazing.

The item in front of this Quilt made me smile. A thong made from hand-made, Polish lace... interesting! When l looked at it at first, l thought it was crochet, it didn't look fine enough to be lace. It appears the skilled lacemakers of the Koniakow Co-operative in Poland needed to extend their area of work for several reasons. For instance, they used to serve many church clients, including Pope John 11. Unfortunately, this type of work had started to slow down and so the ladies decided to change from making altar cloths to underwear! They are making money again and managing to keep the craft alive at the same time. Enterprising women indeed... religious items to woman's underwear!!!

On one wall, there hung the most amazing carpet, "The Carpet of Remembrance". It is a kilm-loom piece of work created by relatives of  victims from the Srebrenica genocide in 2008. In 1995, there were over 8,000 Bosnian men and boys killed in a horrific massacre and this work helped the women to heal, promote human rights and gave them a source of income. For a carpet that had so much sadness in it, it was so bright and colourful.
The little bit of a sparkley flag you can see on the right of this image is a Hatitian, Vodoo Flag. Traditionally,  they were created and used by the men, now they are created and used by both men and women. This flag was created by a woman called Myrlande Constant but they do not know when she made it.  Myrlande learned beading and the other techniques from her mother and then trained other makers.
I just love this next image, "A Snowflake Address Card" created in 2009 by the Heatherwisk Studio in the UK. They got the idea from children folding, cutting and creating paper snowflakes. The team made each of the 350 unique designs by cutting away the empty spaces around, within and between the letters of the address. They first hand wrote each address, used computor - aided designs and then laser cutting and folding!!  A beautiful piece of art in it's own right. To me, it also looks as though it is something written in Arabic!
Old fashioned cross stitch meets the eletronic age. "QR U"? is the name of this beaded dress and necklace. This outifit was designed by Thorunn Arndotlir and was inspired by African masks that were decorated in symbols used to communicate identities. She used Swarovski crystals into which QR (quick response) codes were patterned. You can use a smart phone to "read" the dress, which was designed for the Icelandic pop star Kali, this links to her online persona. The necklace leads you to the designer's website. If you zoom in onto the beads, your smart phone will pick it up (provided you have the free App "Scan")  Tony tried it and it works! I really wish l could understand all this new technology!!!!
Believe it or not, the image of the baby is a cake... l kid you not! It is called, strangely, "Sculptured Baby Cake". The British artist Michelle Wibowo makes hyper-realistic cakes! All she does is bake it, then she sculpts it using marzipan, then she paints it using coloured icing. Simple isn't it?!
There were many other items in the Exhibition l couldn't get an image of. For example, the fantastic dress called "Widow". It took the British artist, Susie MacMurry 7 full weeeks to pin each of the 100,000 dressmaker's pins into the leather, made from a base of Black Napper Leather. Just imagine how heavy it must be.
Quote from the article's notes: "The dress is a psychological portrait of a widow. The dress is both inviting sexually and literaly stand-offish." It looks magnificent, shimmers in the light and is beautiful to look at.
Another item that caught my attention was a pair of shoes designed by Alexander McQueen in 2009 and worn by the model Naomi Campbell. Do you remember?... she fell off them while on the catwalk? They were inspired by the shape of a ballet dancer's foot when performing 'en pointe'. Do you know how many individual people contributed to the making of this shoe? .........100! No wonder his shoes are so expensive. I have drawn a quick sketch of what they looked like. They are made from python skin and are called "Armadillo" shoes.

The last item l want to talk about made me both laugh and cringe at the same time. Unfortunately, no image to show you.  "Crochetdermy" was a mix of crochet and taxidermy... l promise you that is what it said!  A full scale, brown bear looking like those bears you see "stuffed" in Museums, but this one didn't require an actual animal to be killed.  Made from a polystyrene and steel frame, mohair and then a black walnut base. Amazing to see !
There was quite a bit more to see. It was well worth going to visit before it closes tomorrow on the 2nd Jan 2012.
What better way to end an Exhibition tour than to see loads of Siver Disco balls and they were for sale too!
To end on a Christmasy note, across from the V&A is the Natural History Museum and their Ice Rink. Every trees has thousands of little white lights shinning away into the night, making the area look very magical and beautiful.

Happy New Year to everyone.


lynda Howells said...

Connie Rose
Great stuff in your blog post, Lynda. Thanks for sharing! Happy New Year to you! xo

Martine said...

Happy new year Lynda.
Thanks for sharing this. I love visiting London and the V&A.....maybe next time........

deanna7trees said...

beautiful. thanks for sharing.

Ginny Huber said...

Thank you Lynda for the great tour of the V &A show. A lovely way for me to start New Year's Day here! I haven't been to London or the V&A in so many many years. Some amazing things in this collection!

Emma said...

Looks like you had a great day last post 7 what a wonderful exhibition. Happy New Year to you!

Caroline said...

That gorilla is amazing!

I've just posted about Encaustic supplies in the UK on my blog if you are interested... and I'd love to add your input.

Caroline (from Bristol and fellow classmate in Judy's Hot Wax Class)

Lynette (NZ) said...

Beautiful post. Have a wonderfully creative 2012

lizet frijters said...

Thanks for sharing this, Lynda. It must have been amazing to see it real life.

Mary said...

Everyday you are an inspiration Lynda,
Thank You

Anonymous said...

thank you for this tour! so many pictures and interesting comments. I wish I could have seen the celluloid quilt in particular. Happy New Year!

lynda Howells said...

thank you everyone for your lovely comments. Mary...Tony says" Are you sure you don't mean Challenge"? Hax

joni cornell said...

Joni Cornell also commented on LMH Art and Life's post.
Joni wrote: "Great visit and blog. I visited the V & A in 1996...been a while but your story made me feel as I was actually walking around the V & A :-)"

~*~Patty S said...

again dear Lynda
many thanks for sharing your visit to this amazing exhibit...I got to visit the V&A museum once years ago and dream of returning again someday

This post is absolutely brilliant!
Sending every good and special wish for a super 2012!

~*~Patty S said...

oh and we saw a similar Chihuly in San Francisco a couple of years ago at the Legion of Honor...they also displayed a fabulous golden sunburst out front

here are a couple of links if you have a few minutes

can't believe it was back in 2008...already!!!