Tuesday, April 13, 2010

V&A Visit









I like the V&A - lots of interesting things to see. We went up today to check out the Quilts Exhibition (which was good, but I still don't really get the point of choosing a number of works by non-quilt-artists to represent contemporary quilting. I mean, there are TONS of brilliant UK quilt & fibre artists to choose from, some of whom do quite traditional things and some of whom are completely wild & wacky and the rest of whom fit everywhere in between, so why not use some of them instead of, for example, Tracy Emin, who, whatever you might think of her art, isn't a quilter? But I digress...)* and had a poke around some of the other galleries, too. Not all of them, as I had two of three children with me - and there's only so much a 7YO can take of the V&A, bless him.

The kids also took part in a make your own patchwork-block-type-art-project that they had running, and these are the blocks they made - the actual blocks were left at the V&A for their project. The idea was to get inspiration for the design elements from around the museum and then use them in making the blocks...



This is Alex's - an elephant (from the India room) on a background of triangles taken from a rather fancy kimono in the Japan room.



And Olivia chose her inspiration in the Islamic Middle East room (I think) - anyway, it was the shape of the leaves in the above photo. I can see why she likes them - me too!



I did buy a few things in the shop (resisted the exhibition book, which was £25 even in paperback, though it did look nice), including a few FQs of the special fabric, which I intend to mix with some more calming fabrics and make something small from. I did find it a bit amusing that the FQs were selling for £3.50 each, but a bundle of 6, tied with a ribbon, was going for £25. I know, I can't do the maths on that, either...

Anyway, if you have the chance, I'd still recommend the exhibit, but for me, it was mostly the historical quilts which I was most interested in, rather than the contemporary stuff.


*Actually, not to go on and on about this, but can you imagine it happening in another field, for instance, if there was an exhibition of 300 years of British oil painting, and to represent the last 50 years, they chose 2 or 3 painters, and then half a dozen people in a totally different field, who created works to represent something about oil painting, possibly not even using oils as a medium? It wouldn't happen, would it!

(Which isn't to say I didn't like some of the pieces, I just feel that aren't perhaps the best choice for an exhibit like this - all the historical stuff is so interesting and varied and represents a good cross-section of the media in those times, but I felt that given that there are hundreds (thousands?) of works out there by contemporary British fibre & quilt artists which show a wide variety of styles, themes, media, messages, etc, why not use those rather than commission things from people in another field?? Or am I being too sensitive about this?)

Here's another thought - I've been thinking about this more, sorry! I can't quite put my finger on it, but I suppose I sort of felt that (the way it was presented) the older quilts in the exhibit gained their artistic validation by virtue of being old, detailed, having lots of pieces, etc (and by being beautiful, in many cases, of course!) but that all the recent quilts had to have some sort of artistic or political statement to them, a higher meaning, rather than just being excellent examples of using this media to create something beautiful (e.g. Grayson Perry's quilt about the politics of abortion; the piece with money; the Alzheimer's piece with the steel wool filling; the one which was very simple squares but which used dryer lint as wadding; and so on). But then again, many of the historical quilts focused on social and/or political aspects of quilting rather than just beauty, so perhaps they were trying to carry that theme throughout the exhibit.

I wonder what other quilters who have seen the exhibit thought!

8 comments:

Anne Wigfull said...

Those bundles of FQs must be tied with VERY expensive ribbon!
Thanks for a thoughtful review of the exhibition.

anne bebbington said...

I haven't been to see the exhibition - not sure if I shall do yet as it finishes before the school summer holidays but I always think the people who stage such events and who decide on the content are often guilty of thinking way too deeply and there is actually merit in showing a collection of items that are simply pleasing to the eye - maybe that's me being a bit naive and simplistic but I'm a visual rather than philosophical soul who is easily pleased by pleasant eye candy

Rafael's Mum said...

That's what I was thinking Anne! £4 for the ribbon!!

I haven't been yet, going end of April so I will see for myself what you mean. I sure would not have expected Tracy Emin in a quilting exhibition! I agree with you there... plenty of good British quilters to exhibit!

Shasta said...

Did your children cut out the pieces, the elephant and the leaves, or were they already cut out? Just curious. I really like that big fabric you have. I've seen a quilt in a Kaffe Fassett book, probably a museum quilt book, and want to make one.

Angelcat said...

I went on Monday, and had a lovely day. I have to say I wasn't really interested in the contemporary stuff, I agree with you there are so many talented quilt artists around I really didn't get the choice of artist for some of the modern piece. My only thought was maybe they thought they would get more people coming to the exhibition if they used people like Tracey Emin, I think sometime people under estimate how much interest there is in quilt and textile art. Love the blocks your children made :)

Angelcat said...

I went on Monday, and had a lovely day. I have to say I wasn't really interested in the contemporary stuff, I agree with you there are so many talented quilt artists around I really didn't get the choice of artist for some of the modern piece. My only thought was maybe they thought they would get more people coming to the exhibition if they used people like Tracey Emin, I think sometime people under estimate how much interest there is in quilt and textile art. Love the blocks your children made :)

Barbara said...

Kate, thank you for expressing your review of the exhibit so well - you summed up my reactions almost exactly! But, I suppose a major exhibit with lots of publicity is better than no exhibit at all - maybe they'll consult us next time!

Dahn said...

Kate--how did I miss this originally? Love the eye candy. Wish I could come to England and see it as well! :-)

Dahn