Sunday, January 30, 2011

Victoria and Albert

I've been learning that there are times when being a lone tourist is not as much fun as I'd hoped. Some things - like riding the London Eye or going to Madame Tussaud's - are not really things that I'm willing to undertake on my own. Thankfully museums do not, generally speaking, fall into this category. I say thankfully because I have a lot of time on my hands, and London is absolutely lousy with cultural shrines to everything from art to transport to war, and then some.
Easily one of the most famous, and arguably the most popular of these is the Victoria and Albert. The museum takes the obligatory art, sculpture and historical artefacts, and houses them side by side with fashion, textiles, photography and theatrical curiosities dating up to maybe a decade or so ago. I spent a day there and walked out feeling simultaneously overwhelmed by the shere amount of visual information I'd taken in and as if I'd barely scratched the surface.
This was once a toy for a small child. If you wind the handle the tiger bites the British soldier.

Japanese fishermen would wear kimonos like this one to celebrate the turn of the New Year and bring them and their family good luck.

One of these sword belonged to the descendant of the prophet Mohammad, and the other to the then king of Afghanistan. They are both inscribed with phrases from the Qu'ran. 

As much as I love history, especially the history of other cultures, I actually spent most of my time at the V&A in the theatre section.
 Guitar famously smashed by The Who guitarist Pete Townshend
The pink and blue t-shirts are from music festivals, while the yellow commemorates the Sex Pistol's infamous trip down the Thames
Costumes worn by Mick Jagger (left) and Adam Ant
Sydney Opera House hat worn by Dame Edna

The V&A also has these Friday night events once a month where you pay a fee and go look at some of the exhibits and drink champagne and pretend to know things about art. Sadly for me, that actually is one of those things I can't do on my own (hello, full circle).

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