was working as a projectionist at Glastonbury last weekend (lucky git...) and, as we are attending the wedding of two of our friends from uni this weekend, he has successfully wiggled out of the 'cultural exchange' deal we struck: That he would come and see the Quilts
exhibition at the V&A before it closes this coming Sunday and that I would go and see something boyish like science or maps or something.
Anyway, spent an absolutely lovely day mooching around Kensington on Sunday. First stop V&A, followed by an ice cream in their amazing garden and watching the kids play in the water feature (brilliant that health and safety hasn't quashed this!), followed by a lovely but by the end quite sweaty walk to Victoria to get the bus home.
Quilts was brilliant. They make me happy and sad all at the same time - an incredible wealth of history, primarily that slightly hidden domestic and often female history, an amazing lineage of skills and techniques passed down through generations. But at the same time, the ten year old who stitched her name and age on her first quilt is long dead and no one really knows who she was any more. I suppose it gives me a bit of a nostalgic twinge in the way that anything implicitly concerned with the passing of time does.
I can't recommend it highly enough. Go with a friend if you can - after the first hundred maybe even I'd seen enough quilts - but well worth it. Sometimes the displays were such that you couldn't get quite close enough to see the workings, but the juxtaposition of contemporary artists and makers working with quilting or patchwork techniques throughout the show, and the film and resulting quilt from the V&A commissioning Fine Cell Work
to work with HMP Wandsworth.
A further treat if you do get to the V&A is 1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces, a free exhibition with 7 small and interesting structures dotted around the V&A. Probably the one that's received most attention is the elephantine structure 'Ratatosk' by Helen & Hard, but what I've been scouring the internet for an image of - and what won't surprise anyone who knows me - is 'Ark'. Situated by the stairs up to the Art Library, this incredible structure is made of untreated wood and is something like a walk-in Ikea bookshelf structured around a spiral staircase. Now, for me, books are like magic. This was an incredible experience - I can't describe the feeling of running your fingers along the spines or the smell of the wood and the dust from the books. Mmm. There are some pretty good videos on the V&A website here
, but if you are near London you should really check it out in person. Amazing :)