Monday, 26 April 2010

London Day 7 - Let the Show Begin!

This was the day I went to the Quilts 1700-2010 Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as the Horace Walpole & Strawberry Hill exhibition (he was an antiques collector and son of a British Prime Minister) - both entry tickets booked over the internet.

I am in my element at the V&A - a truly wonderful Museum! Being a design museum it is organised into geographical areas of the world as well as into types of materials. The exhibition was excellent and thought provoking as well. The iPod Touch audio guide was excellent as it enabled zooming in on close detail of many quilts. This wasn't possible on the actual quilts as barriers kept the visitors back to prevent touching and damage and lighting was subdued for preservation reasons. There was a wide variety of quilts from "ordinary" household or hotel quilts to specially commissioned quilts which were a great historical record of their times. My favourites for composition and workmanship were Ann West's "Patchwork with Garden of Eden" in wool applique and piecing from 1820, and the "George III Coverlet" from 1803-5. Photos weren't allowed so I bought the exhibition book, which was very well put together, as well as a small selection from the 35 reproduction fabrics and a set of coasters each showing a block from Ann West's quilt.

The cafe was bustling and the meals seemed enormous and all cost about BP10 ... then I found a bargain - the 'children's roast' - two generous slices of your choice of roast meat (turkey for me), gravy, ample roast potatoes, pumpkin, carrot and parsnip plus a soft drink for BP4.95. That's more like it! The room was amazing.

After lunch I pored over the ancient pieces of fabric and embroidery in the Textile Study Rooms, stored in slide out wooden panels, behind glass. They date back to ancient Egyptian times and are from all parts of the world.

Later I looked briefly at the lace displays and Hunting Tapestries but the section closed (due to staff shortages) before I could return. The Materials - Silver section was like a sensory overload - so much intricate work displayed ... I was able to make some gift purchases at the two shops but was disappointed to find no more William Morris design tea towels like I had purchased in York - they have been out of stock for 3 months apparently. I would have loved some more!

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