Wednesday 5 March 2014

London - Victoria & Albert Museum

There was so much to see at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, I am so glad I finally made it there! The V & A was just not on my radar, as I had pre-conceived (and incorrect!) notions about the museum's collection. At the main entrance one is greeted by this lovely hanging sculpture full of lights.

The entrance has a double foyer so this hanging sculpture of blown glass modules is also lovely to see.

The Jameel Prize 3 exhibition was on; for more information click here (link to the V&A which also includes short videos of the artists at work. "The Jameel Prize is an international award for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition. Its aim is to explore the relationship between Islamic traditions of art, craft and design and contemporary work as part of a wider debate about Islamic culture and its role today."

Although I was not allowed to take photos in this gallery, I found some photos online of the work that I particularly like. These two carpets by Faig Ahmed are based on traditional designs, but in the left one the upper right corner of the design is skewed and in the right one the top quarter of the design is pixellated! The designs were obviously worked out with the aid of a computer bringing the traditions to the digital age. This is both amusing and effective.

Laurent Mareschal created a temporary "carpet" from spices.

Here is a detail of Mareschal's spice carpet. Kneeling on the floor beside it a delicious aroma wafted to my head.

Commanding the gallery was Nada Debs's "Concrete Carpet" with Arabic script carved into it, the font designed by fellow Jameel Prize shortlisted artist Pascal Zoghbi.

The carpet was created with multi blocks of stone. Here is a detail. The Jameel Prize exhibition included more than works based on carpets -- these were just the works that appealed to me.

As well as the huge sections devoted to permanent collections of artifacts in ceramics, furniture design, clothing design, jewellery, sculpture, historical artifacts, etc, there are also curated thematic exhibitions. We saw one about photography as fiction, which included the work of Jeff Wall and Cindy Sherman among others. There was also a gorgeous and eclectic exhibition of British drawing from the last few hundred years. I was pleased to see two elaborate Aubrey Beardsley pen and ink illustrations, a beautiful flower sketch by Frederic Leighton, an early David Hockney portrait, and this fabulous drawing, "Head Study Two, 2009" by Alison Lambert. The drawing is done in charcoal and soft watercolour paper, and has a heavy patchwork texture as she has glued additional paper onto areas and continued drawing over that.

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