Sunday, 18 April 2010


On Friday I had a day so packed full of fun and research.
I began by visiting Jake at the Natural History Museum and he showed me round the museum library! It was amazing. So so many books with beautiful illustrations of birds and animals and body parts.

I found some of Edward Julius Detmold's work in a Christie's catalogue from 1989.

And Archibold Thorburn's work.

And, I really really want this book:

After the library, we then went on to the 'butterfly explorers' new bit, where it's basically a tent like structure filled with live butterflies and plants and flowers. Amazing. You walk through the plastic doors and a huge beautiful butterfly wafts past your face. The only problem was the museum wasn't regulating the people in, although it was ticketed, so it was full of noisy children trying to pick up the butterflies. As a result it looked as though lots of wings were broken and crumpled. This seemed to be a serious error, I hope it gets rectified.

NEXT, we went to the V&A. I 'hadn't been there for a long time that I remember, and was really struck by the sheer amount they have on display. I especially liked Lord Frederic Leighton's 'The Sluggard'.

We then made our way to the Walpole Collection exhibition, and once more were overwhelmed by so many beautiful objects in such a small space. There is such incredible craftmanship there.

After this, we ate lunch outside by the fountains in the sunshine and Jake went back to work. I went on to the Quilts exhibition. It was really interesting, and highly amusing too as a result of the masses of elderly ladies discussing quilting techniques and historical and social changes.

Says one lady in a Sunderland accent, "This is lovely. I like the bobbles on it. " etc etc.

Obviously, quilt making is highly related to recording memories. What I found in the exhibition too was how many people took up quilting as a method for distraction. From Mavis FitzRandolph in 1954, "In spite of her unhappiness she was soon absorbed in the old fascination of 'studying what to put on' and then 'seeing the patterns form under her hand'. 'The quilting saved my mind,' she said. "... To soldiers quilting from military materials- like this quilt from the 1880s, made in India by William Brayley.

Many soldiers were encouraged to quilt whilst in hospital, with awards for the best ones.

Natasha Kerr's work, "At the end of the day", came from finding an old family photograph. In it is her dad, who when fighting in the war hardly ever saw home. So Kerr puts this image on a quilt, an extremely homely object.

What was also striking about the exhibition was the extent to which people recycled materials for quilts. One quilt was made of blackout curtain material.

This very old photo of my patchwork quilt is one that my grandma made. I know for a fact that it is all recyled materials, from my mum and auntie's schooldresses to curtains.

It is pretty late now. I saw lots lots more but will round up related to memory and photos. In the photography section of the V&A I found a peice by Thomas Ruff, "Blue Eyes M.V./B.E; Blue Eyes M.B./B.E.; Blue Eyes L.C./B.E.; Blue Eyes C.F./B.E. "
It was a set of four portraits, but in each one Ruff had edited in the same pair of blue irises. As I quote from the explanation label, " thereby undermining the photograph's truthfullnes as records." I thought that was quite interesting in regards to my work, as I am also changing the truthfullness of the photograph I am working on, but trying to make it more true.

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