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magazine summer 2015

Issue Nº37 · Summer 2015



shoes: pleasure and pain — Captain Linnaeus Tripe — Bawden, Ravilious and the Artists of Great Bardfield


Style, sex

£4 · €6 · $7us · $11can

Contents Summer 2015




E d itor ia l


Fr o m th e di re c t o r

21 30  S p ot li gh t Christine Murray pays tribute to the late Moira Gemmill, the V&A’s former director of projects and design

14  A r t Rachel Potts on a V&A display dedicated to contemporary portraiture 16  I nte r ior d e c o rat i o n Mariam Rosser-Owen on the history of the “Damascus room”

79  B ook s Perfect Likeness: Photography and Composition; Staging Disorder; and Sculpture Victorious: Art in an Age of Invention, 1837–1901. Plus new publications from V&A Publishing

18  T h e ne e d -t o - k n o w An insider’s account of the grand Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty Fashion Gala

84  M e mb e r s h i p ev en t s Including talks from writer and commentator Peter York, fashion designers Sibling, chef Heston Blumenthal and illustrator Quentin Blake. Plus visits to houses built for JMW Turner and Thomas Carlyle

21  F a s h ion Keith Lodwick introduces two splendid V&Aacquired Hollywood costumes in need of no introduction

100  C olle ct i on s ele c t i on Louise Cooling on a Swiss drawing of an English merchant in Turkish attire

23  P otte r y Edward Behrens looks briefly at the history of Wedgwood, and introduces its soon-to-reopen museum 25  P e r f or m a n ce Emma Rogers on India’s long-standing and enduring tradition of narrative-led art forms 27

V &A S h ow s What’s on this summer

28  Ac qui s itio n Lisa Springer on Brassaï’s arresting photographs of Parisian graffiti

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


Contents Summer 2015


38 38 If the shoe fits... or if it doesn’t  Caroline Roux examines the cultural and aesthetic power of the shoe – and how it varies around the world


48 Getting to the pointe  Deborah Bull looks back at her time as a ballet dancer, and the necessity of ripping and bashing in creating the perfect ballet shoe 52 In love (and lust ) with those shoes From trembling French writers to misbehaving monkeys, Jesse Bering considers the eroticism of footwear 56 The captain, the camera and an expanding empire  John Falconer reintroduces Captain Linnaeus Tripe, an officer in the East India Company army with a fine eye for photography 68  Duffy Ayers: a story of not-so-everyday artistic

country folk

Mark Eastment and Gill Saunders meet artist Duffy Ayers, former member of the group of artists based in Great Bardfield, Essex

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


edi tor ia l

From fashion and fetishism to India... Thomas Phongsathorn


hether, in the process of getting dressed, we think about it or not, clothing communicates something to those we encounter: interests, religion, wealth, background, aspirations, sexuality and myriad other messages. Indeed, the fashion industry’s existence is predicated on our concern with what we broadcast about ourselves through our clothing, and it does not seem unreasonable to think of fashion designers as, among other things, psychologically perspicacious monitors and manipulators of taste, figuring out who wants to be and say what at the present time, and how those ideas of expression might develop. V&A Magazine V&A South Kensington London SW7 2RL 020 7942 2000

magazine Issue 37 Summer 2015 Cover: fabric and leather stilettoes, by Casadei for Fausto Puglisi, 2014. Photo: Jaron James, V&A Photographic Studio © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Editor Thomas Phongsathorn Art Director Andrew Johnson Deputy Editor Rachel Potts Production Editor Ian Massey Editorial Board Joanna Banham, Louise Shannon, Olivia Colling, Marina Vaizey, Bill Sherman, James Beardsworth, Ken Draper

The area of fashion that is less publicly spoken about is a largely private domain: the physical sensation of materials, stitched, bonded and buttoned into garments, against flesh. Some designers have posited that comfort negates style, that a slender torso, long leg and confident posture require effort and a commitment to the cause. Perhaps no item of clothing encapsulates this attitude quite as much as the women’s high-heeled shoe does. The exhibition ‘Shoes: Pleasure and Pain’ brings together examples of extreme and unusual footwear partly to show how people have been, and are, willing, if not eager, to challenge their bodies and minds in order to look and feel a certain way – maybe powerful and commanding; seductive and seducible; or postmodern and witty. Former ballet dancer Deborah Bull has composed one of our three features on shoes for this issue, and describes her old process of making a pair of pointe shoes fit for purpose – tearing and beating them before testing them out in the studio. And when it comes to the physiological feat that has come to define that particular art form in the public consciousness – standing en pointe – she reveals that the dancer’s ratio of pleasure to pain surprises. Prior to Deborah’s feature, design journalist Caroline Roux contributes our main essay on shoes, looking at both the cult of footwear and the culture that surrounds it – from booming sales to foot-binding, taking in trainer collecting, gender relations, advertising and the symbolic potency of the arched female foot. Jesse Bering, academic and author of Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us, concludes our coverage of ‘Shoes: Pleasure and Pain’ by broadening the subject, providing us with an informed assessment of shoe fetishism that courses through medical and literary history and evolutionary theory. In the process, he tells us that while the shoe (and the foot) has a power that crosses cultures in different ways, the lure for the fetishist is fundamentally to do with one aspect – its having been worn; that its materials have, evidently, been against someone’s flesh. The V&A is among the few museums in the world that has the practical and intellectual resources to take us from a single item of clothing to the culture of another nation. As preparations get underway for the museum’s India Festival, beginning this autumn, we begin, in the company of John Falconer of the British Library, by looking at the work of Captain Linnaeus Tripe, a largely forgotten nineteenth-century photographer who travelled to India and Burma combining a duty to documentary with his own, quietly elegant stylistic principles. It is a moving story of a man who was, like the V&A, English by birth and receptive to the world and its rich and varied offerings.

Advertising Sales Roisin Green or Sophie Hayim at Cultureshock Media 020 7735 9263 Publishing Director Phil Allison Production Manager Nicola Vanstone Thanks and acknowledgements Jaron James, Artefact London, Richard Davis, Gill Saunders, Mark Eastment, Julian Rothenstein, Duffy Ayers, Peter Kelleher, Kathryn Johnson, Louise Taberer, Anni Timms, Kate Brier, Sophie Hargroves, Beth McKillop, Helen Persson, Lucia Savi, Martin Barnes, V&A Press, V&A Marketing, V&A Development, V&A Membership, V&A Publishing

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

V&A Magazine is published by Cultureshock Media on behalf of the Victoria and Albert Museum © 2015 Cultureshock Media 27b Tradescant Road London SW8 1XD Telephone 020 7735 9263 Fax 020 7735 5052 Reprographics PH Media Printing Polestar Chantry Ltd Distribution Central Books 020 8986 4854 Subscriptions £11 (UK) for 3 issues

V&A Magazine is published three times a year. The views expressed in its pages are not necessarily those of the V&A, or the Friends of the V&A. The magazine does not accept responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or photographs. While every effort has been made to identify copyright holders, some omissions may occur. ISSN 1465-8291



f r o m th e d ir e c t o r

Welcome to the world on your doorstep Martin Roth, director of the V&A

“ This year we are staging an ongoing festival of events and displays to celebrate the global influence of art and design from India”

oday, as I write this, visitors are enjoying V&A exhibitions across the world, in Melbourne, Dublin, Montreal, Sharjah, Ghent, Nashville and elsewhere. To reach an international audience, however, we have only to open our doors. Visitors to the V&A in South Kensington and the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green come from all over the world. Many are tourists, but many are also Londoners. The capital is home to individuals from more than 270 different countries. About a third of the city was born outside the UK, and I can include myself in this statistic. In the 1850s the V&A’s founders tried to bring the world to London through “The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations”. Now, the world is already here, and not just in the city’s many diaspora communities. The cosmopolitan character of London is also due to the connections between the city and global economics, communications and culture. I believe that to really understand these different cultures, we need to engage with them on a human scale – with other people, with objects. Museums are great places to do this. The V&A’s collection is a window on to design, history, art and politics from across the world. The original nineteenth-century collection has grown to around 2.5 million objects. We have an incredible international collection, and a responsibility to give everyone access to this rich resource. Within that collection, the V&A preserves more than 65,000 wonderful pieces of Indian art and design. This year we are staging an ongoing festival of events and displays to celebrate the global influence of art and design from India. Upcoming highlights include the largest exhibition of Indian textiles to date, ‘The Fabric of India’ (3 October – 10 January), and a beautiful display of Indian jewellery, ‘Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection’ (21 November – 28 March), in addition to ‘Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma, 1852–1860’ (24 June – 11 October) and the display ‘The Art of Indian Storytelling’ (11 August – 24 January). This autumn we will mark the 25th anniversary of both the opening of the Nehru Gallery of South Asian art at the V&A and the launch of the Nehru Trust for the Indian Collections. Of course, that’s not all. Installations are already underway for another gathering of global talent – the annual London Design Festival (19–27 September). We are busier than ever this summer, and I hope you will all come to enjoy the London Design Festival, the Indian Festival and, of course, the V&A.

Left: map shawl, woollen embroidery, Kashmir, nineteenth century © Victoria and Albert Museum, London V&A Magazine Summer 2015


ar t

Saving face Playing with fact and fiction. Rachel Potts previews a V&A display that explores how the many guises of portraiture have influenced contemporary artists

“I think this is a timely show as we as a society focus more and more on picturing ourselves”

The star of HBO series Breaking Bad features in the display ‘Facing History: Contemporary Portraiture’ at the V&A this summer. Bryan Cranston’s face is the subject of the 2014 etching Man with Eyes Closed (Walter White) by US artist Brian D Cohen, acquired specially for the show by V&A curator Gill Saunders. Shadowy and indistinct, it takes inspiration from death masks, silhouettes and tronies – anonymous “character heads” painted by Flemish Masters to sell to the public rather than private clients. Importantly, it’s a portrait of both an actor and his character. Portraiture’s relationship with reality has always been complicated. Naturalistic likeness was not always of primary importance in historical portrait paintings, strongly allied to status. Miniatures, which flourished between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, had emotive links to love and memory – even, in Tudor times, political propaganda – acting almost as substitutes for their sitters. Featuring some 70 works in total, ‘Facing History’ will aim to reveal how the many guises of portraiture, including the passport photo and the postage stamp, have influenced contemporary artists. The V&A holds a fine collection of portrait miniatures and medals, examples of which will also be on show to underscore these dialogues. Working on the project, Saunders reveals she was pleasantly surprised by the longevity of some of the historical modes: “The silhouette, for instance, still continues to be a useful and eloquent way of representing someone.” A popular and relatively cheap prephotographic tradition, the silhouette inspires Julian Opie’s prints Luc and Ludivine get Married (2007) and the display’s centrepiece, the series Made up love song by Bettina von Zwehl. Created while in residency at the V&A in 2011, the latter’s 34 photographs capture the profile of the museum’s Visitor Services staff member Sophie Birikorang, and were taken over many months in precisely the same position and location. Tiny and jewel-like, they also draw on the portrait miniature and have their own emotional heart – the artist has said that the project became about the engaged relationship between the two women. Two linocuts on show by Grayson Perry, Mr and Mrs Perry, both resemble the artist himself, but are styled as amateur nineteenth-century portraits, another play on fact and fiction. “I’ve never taken a selfie in my life,” concedes Saunders, “but I think this is a timely show as we as a society focus more and more on picturing ourselves.” Rachel Potts is assistant editor at V&A Magazine ‘Facing History: Contemporary Portraiture’, Paintings, Room 88a and The Julie and Robert Breckman Prints & Drawings Gallery, Room 90, V&A, London SW7 (020 7942 2000,, 27 July – 26 February

Left: Bettina von Zwehl, Made up love song, Part 2, from the series Made up love song, 2011. Purchased with the support of the Friends of the V&A and the Cecil Beaton Fund. Right: Brian D Cohen, Man with Eyes Closed (Walter White), 2014. Both © Victoria and Albert Museum, London


V&A Magazine Summer 2015

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


i nt er i or d e c or a t i o n

The road to Damascus You don’t have to travel to Syria to discover the delights of eighteenth-century rooms in Damascus. Just take a trip to the V&A with Mariam Rosser-Owen...

Below: pair of doors from the V&A’s Damascus Room, 1789. Below right: the Damascus Room installed in the Bethnal Green Museum, c.1930–1940. Both © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

In 1880 the V&A became the first public collection outside the Middle East to acquire a “Damascus Room”. It was bought along with “its appropriate and original fittings” from the London-based dealer Vincent Robinson & Co, which later sold the well-known Ardabil Carpet to the museum. Three years later a second example was purchased. Although we don’t know which houses they came from, both date from the eighteenth century. These rooms exemplified a trend in interior decoration that began in the early seventeenth century during the Ottoman period in Syria. The main reception rooms in upper-class homes featured colourful painted wooden panelling, with relief ornamentation in pastiglia (known in Arabic as ajami) based on imported luxury textiles and local architectural motifs, usually bearing poetic inscriptions composed directly for the space. They were much admired by European travellers to Syria, who described them in their writings. Civil unrest in the 1860s caused damage to some of the houses, and their interiors became available for Europeans to collect. “Damascus Rooms” can now be found in museums across Europe and America. By the 1930s the V&A’s two examples were merged into a composite installation at the Bethnal Green Museum, where it sustained damage from a flying bomb in 1944. Neglect ensued in the years following the war, and by the late 1950s the panelling was found to be badly infested with woodworm. Five elements were treated with Rentokil and “retained for record purposes”. Nearly 60 years after the panels went into storage, the current display has given us the chance to bring them back to life. We have begun a cleaning and conservation programme, which we hope will continue after the display ends to eventually restore them to their original brightly coloured splendour. Keep an eye on the V&A website for information on the events and activities surrounding this display, especially during Refugee Week (15–21 June). We are also planning a study day in October. Mariam Rosser-Owen is curator Middle East, Asian Department ‘A Room from Damascus’, Jameel Gallery, V&A, London SW7 (020 7942 2000,, until 16 December


V&A Magazine Summer 2015

t he ne e d -to-know The occasion: The Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty Fashion Gala, presented by American Express and Kering. The date: The evening of Thursday 12 March. The venue: The Victoria and Albert Museum. The purpose: To mark the opening of the exhibition; to raise important funds for the V&A’s fashion collection; and to invite donations to a fund named in Alexander McQueen’s honour. The guests: David and Victoria Beckham, Colin and Livia Firth, Kate Moss and Salma Hayek Pinault, among quite a few others. The refreshments: Lanson White Champagne Label NV, The Macallan Old Fashioned and Whisky Sour cocktails, Vina Ardanza Rioja Reserva 2005 and Sipsmith Gin and tonics all helped to get the guests in the appropriate frame of mind. The meal: Duck egg with asparagus to begin, wild sea bass with kale and brown shrimp for the main course – and apple tart with whisky caramel sauce to round things off. The entertainment: FKA Twigs performed a three-song set dressed in – what else? – Alexander McQueen. The moves: The Porter Gallery became host to many astonishing physical achievements when it was turned into a post-dinner dance floor – but the moves that really caught our attention came courtesy of editor and stylist Katie Grand and actress Gwendoline Christie. The moments: Naomi Campbell and Annabelle Neilson paid moving tribute to their friend Alexander McQueen after dinner; and an unannounced performance from dancer and choreographer Michael Clark, with a cameo appearance from Kate Moss, ended a spectacular evening.


V&A Magazine Summer 2015

Facing page, clockwise from top left: David and Victoria Beckham; Colin and Livia Firth; Sarah Burton and Kate Moss; Salma Hayek Pinault and François-Henri Pinault. This page, left to right from top row: the party in full swing; FKA Twigs performing; Giles Deacon and Gwendoline Christie; Eva Herzigova; Erin O’Connor, Poppy Delevingne and Jacquetta Wheeler; Naomi Campbell; Kate Moss and Michael Clark dancers. Photos: Dave

Benett Getty Images for Victoria and Albert Museum, London

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


Above: Ginger Rogers’s Lady in the Dark (1944) costume, designed by Edith Head

f as h ion

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Dressed to dance Class, sex and the costumes made to fit. Keith Lodwick on a V&A celebration of the chemistry of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Among the legacies of the 2012 V&A exhibition ‘Hollywood Costume’ was the transferral to the V&A of the former Museum of the Moving Image costume collection held at the British Film Institute (BFI). Costumes worn by Fred Astaire in Swing Time (1936) and Ginger Rogers in Lady in the Dark (1944) are on permanent display in the Theatre & Performance Galleries from June. Of the legendary dancing couple, Katharine Hepburn famously said: “Fred gave Ginger class and Ginger gave Fred sex.” Rogers added: “I did everything Fred did, backwards and in high heels.” The pair’s on-screen chemistry was enhanced by the stunning costumes they wore for dancing sequences. Astaire provided his own bespoke wardrobe (as was common practice for actors of the period) for his films, made at Anderson & Sheppard, the legendary tailor in Savile Row, London. He liked to test the seams of his costumes by dancing in front of a fulllength mirror. The tailcoat was cut so that when he raised his arms,

the jacket stayed in parallel with his body, forming a beautiful symmetry. Astaire conveyed English tailoring to a worldwide audience, and transferred this easy elegance through the twentieth century’s most popular medium – film. Rogers had an enduring collaboration with leading costume designer Edith Head. Film historians have long debated who actually created the costume for the Ira Gershwin/Kurt Weill musical Lady in the Dark – though the star herself said that Head devised two for her: one for close-ups and the other for dancing. The dress was designed to show off her legs, and was finished with a mink bolero and matching sequined gloves. The costume became a marketing dream for Paramount Pictures, featuring on the film’s poster and all supporting publicity, and is one of the most famous to come out of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Keith Lodwick is assistant curator in the Theatre & Performance Department Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers: A London Celebration, Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre, V&A, London SW7 (020 7942 2000,, Saturday 5 September, 10.30 – 17.30. This study day will bring together international scholars, experts, enthusiasts and special guests to explore aspects of the duo’s artistry and celebrate their lasting legacy. Also in September the V&A is marking the 80th anniversary of Top Hat with a major conference

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


potte r y

Hive of pretty industry Pottery for posterity... Edward Behrens heralds the opening of the new – and very fitting – Wedgwood Museum

Wedgwood is one of the great triumphs of English manufacturing. Josiah Wedgwood’s industrial techniques created an unprecedented demand for English pottery, while his designs led the world in taste and refinement. All of which made him rich and influential beyond recognition, yet he was troubled by posterity. As early as 1774, a mere fifteen years after the foundation of his company, he wrote: “I have often wish’d I had saved a single specimen of all the new articles I have made, and would now give twenty times the original value for such a collection. I am now, from thinking, and talking a little more upon this subject… resolv’d to make a beginning.” This was the start of what is now among the definitive collections of porcelain, while the archive is a part of UNESCO’s UK Memory of the World Register. For the first time, the Wedgwood collection has been consolidated, under the ownership of the V&A, and is reopening to the public, having been secured for the nation with the help of the Art Fund and major support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, private donations and a public appeal. Visitors to the new Wedgwood Museum might be surprised. The building has developed out of an aesthetic central to the founder – but is not what one might normally associate with him. Absent is any hint of classical decoration. Instead, the focus is on the industrial, and it is located in Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent, which, as director Gaye Blake Roberts says, is “especially important in ensuring the continuity of the history of the company, [and is] where Wedgwood pottery is still created”. Designed by architects Hulme Upright Manning, this is not a building that brushes over the details or hides them behind acanthus leaves, but proudly displays curved brickwork reminiscent of a bottle kiln, steel beams and aluminium cladding. It is a fitting home for the pieces it displays. After all, the prettiness of much of the collection might be undeniable, but the story of Wedgwood’s success is one of industrial innovation. And it is a story that resonates with the present day. As Blake Roberts says: “The enlarged museum brings the history of the company up to date with the twenty-first century.” Wedgwood’s decorative eye, whose attention had previously been on the past, turns to the future and, to startling effect, the twentieth century, with works of porcelain by English modernists such as Eduardo Paolozzi and Eric Ravilious. The Wedgwood Museum is unique in being able to tell this story piece by piece.

Above: Portland vase, black jasper with white reliefs, 1789–1790. Below: earthenware vase with a matt green glaze, c.1935. Images © WWRD

Edward Behrens is a freelance writer and executive editor of The Art Book The Wedgwood Museum opens in June V&A Magazine Summer 2015


per f or ma nc e

Gods and demons through the ages Emma Rogers unveils the ancient and modern art of Indian storytelling

Storytelling in its different forms has been integral to Indian culture for centuries. The great myths and legends of ancient Sanskrit poems, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, with their vivid tales of heroes, gods and demons, great battles, love and treachery, provided material for oral storytelling customs. And over time, visual aids and social practices developed across the country creating distinct artistic traditions that continue to be used to this day. ‘The Art of Indian Storytelling’ display brings together a selection of traditional storytelling objects with contemporary interpretations of both the stories and the age-old practices used to tell them. Older art forms illustrate how the role of a narrator was an essential part of the object. Theatrical masks were used to transform the actor/dancer into the monkey god Hanuman or the demon Ravana, and shadow puppets created dramatic moving images that enacted the story set to music and song. Alongside individually recognisable characters from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, many of the puppets and masks in the V&A’s collection represent the numerous nameless figures that made up the supporting cast: wrestlers, warriors, demons or raksha

and various animals. The popularity of these stories led to some interesting variations. A pack of playing cards, ganjifa, from nineteenth-century Orissa, takes the Ramayana as its subject matter instead of the customary courtly suits of an Indian card pack. The eight suits group together different sections of the story, unfolding the events of the epic tale. Traditional artistic storytelling methods have also endured into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. A storyteller’s box, made in Rajasthan circa 1960, was used as a portable shrine to be carried from village to village where the stories of Vishnu and Krishna contained within would have been recited as the panels of the box opened out to reveal corresponding images. In west Bengal, long scroll paintings, known as patas, were used to tell folk tales and local legends. Made by patuas (artist-minstrels) from long strips of paper and backed by cloth, the narratives were depicted in registers that were gradually unrolled before an audience. Scrolls are still created in this style, but often feature major contemporary events, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001. The Osama Scroll, made in about 2004 by Madhu Chitrakar, is a fine example of the latter. Other themes of the display explore the translation of traditional Indian stories into Western text and book formats. Written in English with illustrations for children in India and Britain, the Ramayana and Indian folk tales were popular in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Contemporary interpretations of these – graphic novels, artist’s books and digital art – represent the fusion of ideas that has been generated by a globalised world. Emma Rogers is an assistant curator in the Asian Department ‘The Art of Indian Storytelling’, V&A, London SW7 (020 7942 2000,, 11 August – 24 January Below: Ramayana playing cards (ganjifa), Orissa, nineteenth century © Victoria and Albert

Museum, London

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


V&A Shows Exhibitions


V&A South Kensington

V&A South Kensington

All of this Belongs to You Until 19 July

In Black and White: Prints from Africa and the Diaspora Until 6 July

General Election-inspired interventions and installations around the museum probe links between design, public life and civic duty.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty Until 2 August This landmark retrospective channels the dramatic brilliance of Alexander McQueen, fully exploring the creations of the late British designer.

What is Luxury? Until 27 September From intricate horology to notions of space and privacy, this exhibition explores diverse interpretations of luxury now – and its potential future meanings.

Shoes: Pleasure and Pain 13 June – 31 January 2016 Gain insights into the cultural and sartorial power of footwear extremes through the ages – from ancient golden sandals to vertiginous heels.

Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma, 1852–1860 24 June – 11 October Documentary and artistic impulses meet in a wealth of architectural and landscape images taken in Asia by the early British photographer.

The Fabric of India 3 October – 10 January 2016 Skills and traditions are illuminated by this rich exhibition of handmade textiles dating from the third to the twenty-first century. Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green

Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls’ House Until 6 September Real family dramas, childhood memories and personal aspirations emerge in this presentation of twelve remarkable dolls’ houses.

Graphic and political material depicting cultural exchanges by artists including Uzo Egonu and Carrie Mae Weems ranges from the 1960s to the present day.

V&A Illustration Awards 2015 Until 2 August Winning work by participants of the prestigious award go on show, revealing pioneering book, editorial and student illustration.

Rapid Response Collecting Until 31 January 2016 A constantly developing display that showcases new acquisitions representing important developments in contemporary design and society.

Personal Favourites: Gold and Silver from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection Until 24 October

A Stitch in Time: Home Sewing Before 1900 Until 27 May 2016

A Renaissance sleeping dog features among this selection of beautiful and surprising objects amassed by the great twentieth-century collector.

Functional objects, also frequently decorative and indicative of status, from an era in which needlework was part of daily life for women.

A History of Photography: Series and Sequences Until 1 November

Exhibition Road Building Until 15 October 2016

An annually changing showcase for the V&A’s collection currently includes prints by Eadweard Muybridge and Sze Tsung Leong.

The Curious Neoclassical Vision of EnnemondAlexandre Petitot Until 6 December Two famous suites of ornamental prints produced by the French-born architect and designer in the 1770s.

a room from Damascus Until 16 December Objects, ceramics and textiles from an eighteenth-century Damascus home offer a view of a golden age for decorative art in the city.

Blue & White: British Printed Ceramics Until 3 January 2016 Designs and decorations used in British ceramics from the 1750s onwards reflect societal changes and include the advent of the famous Willow pattern.

Models and sketches bring to life a major redevelopment project – the largest at the V&A for a century.

Make/Believe: UK Design for Performance 2011/2015 11 July – 3 January 2016 Recent design work in disciplines from theatre to pop music is brought to life by this multimedia display.

Facing History: Contemporary Portraiture 27 July – 26 February 2016 Works by contemporary artists join historic examples of portrait traditions that have proved inspiring, including miniatures and medals.

Barnaby Barford: Tower of Babel 7 August – 18 October The contemporary artist constructs a six-metre-high favela from 3,000 china models of real London shops, ascending in order of exclusivity.

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

THE ART OF INDIAN STORYTELLING 11 August – 24 January 2016 Nineteenth and twentieth-century artefacts, from an illustrated scroll to playing cards and a mask, illuminate traditional forms of Indian story telling. Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green

Hidden Identities Unfinished Until 28 June Photographer Yvonne De Rosa presents a range of images of children enduring poverty and hardship in present-day Bosnia and Romania.

It’s My Party… Until 18 October Artists collaborate with local schoolchildren to create an installation that playfully questions the importance, cost and scale of children’s parties today.

The Alice Look Until 1 November In her 150th anniversary year, garments, books, prints and more reveal how Lewis Carroll’s iconic character followed and subsequently influenced fashion.

Kites from Kabul 4 July – 3 January 2016 Colourful examples from Kabul highlight the significance of kite flying in the troubled Afghan city.

Above: floorspread, painted and dyed cotton, Coromandel Coast, c.1630 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London


From the series Graffiti Artist: Brassaï (Gyula Halász) Date: 1930–1960 Materials: gelatin silver prints Location: Prints and Drawings Study Room Bequest of Madame Gilberte Brassaï

new a c quis ition

“Savage flowers of art” Brassaï saw graffiti not as mindless defacement, but more a means of mastering the frenzy of the unconscious. Lisa Springer gives an insight into a bequest from the great photographer’s widow

Below and facing page: Brassaï, from the series Graffiti, 1930–1960. Bequest of Madame Gilberte Brassaï © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Brassaï (1899–1984) prowled the streets of Paris for 25 years photographing images that had been carved and drawn on the walls. Fascinated by the evolution of graffiti and carrying small notebooks, he recorded locations and made quick sketches so that he could return at a later stage to take photographs as a work was altered over time. He enjoyed collecting “these ephemeral and savage flowers of art, blooming everywhere on the walls of Paris’s boroughs”, and saw them as a visual reflection of the imagination. A key figure in the history of modern art and photography, he is best known for his images of nocturnal Paris and its demimonde. The Surrealists’ idea about the liberation of the subconscious and dream states influenced him, and he spent his life tracking magical moments, mythical signs and mysterious creatures. “To engrave one’s name One’s love a date on the wall of a building, this vandalism cannot be explained solely by the need for destruction. I see it rather as the instinct to survive of all those who cannot erect pyramids and cathedrals to guard their names for posterity.” In his poem about graffiti, Brassaï recognised that the act of writing on walls did not always constitute mindless defacement. He photographed it not primarily as primitive street art or a form of play (a tradition that dates back to the Stone Age), but as a means of “mastering the frenzy of the unconscious”. He classified these crude markings like an anthropologist studying tribal hieroglyphs, assigning them categories such as “Masks”, “Love”, “Death” and “Magic”. The first exhibition of his graffiti photographs was held in 1956 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and toured to the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London two years later. The shows were so popular that the Graffiti series culminated in a book published in 1961 with an introduction by Picasso. These photographs are from a selection of 99 that were bequeathed to the V&A by Madame Gilberte Brassaï, the photographer’s widow. The bequest includes a substantial number of Brassaï’s graffiti pictures and a wide range of other subject matter, including portraits of artists, nudes, Parisian cafés, dance halls and nocturnal street scenes, and the portfolio Transmutations. All photographs from the bequest are available to view by appointment from Tuesday to Friday in the Prints and Drawings Study Room. Lisa Springer is a trainee curator on the Museum Curators for Photography programme, supported by the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation. She is currently assisting in the Photographs Section, Word & Image Department Eight photographs from Brassaï’s Graffiti series are on display alongside the original book in ‘A History of Photography: Sequences and Series’, Room 100, V&A, London SW7 (020 7942 2000,, until 1 November


V&A Magazine Summer 2015

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


spo tlig h t

A tribute to Moira Gemmill “Her work was nothing short of visionary” – Christine Murray celebrates the achievements of the former V&A director of projects and design, who died in a bicycle accident in April

Before I met Moira Gemmill, I had already fallen in love with her V&A: the new galleries, flooded with daylight; fusty glass cases banished in favour of artefacts proudly on show, up close where you can see them; new architecture boldly colliding with the historic, enhancing both and emasculating neither. That was Moira – the V&A director of projects and design who died in a tragic bicycle accident in London in April. As I grew to know Moira, I saw how much of the work commissioned under V&A FuturePlan embodied her own values, her spirit. She shone brightly in any room, and she had a way of letting fresh ideas in. What Moira accomplished over her thirteen years at the museum feels a natural part of the V&A now, but her work was nothing short of visionary. Seventy per cent of the museum has been transformed over the past decade through the work she commissioned from a wide range of architects and designers. Imagine the dust from the constant construction; the fear of disruption or damage by conservationists; the hesitancy in combining contemporary architecture with a Grade I-listed building. But Moira’s fearless approach has been proven again and again – by the V&A’s soaring visitor numbers and its influence as the world’s leading museum of art and design. Over lunch some years ago, Moira asked what I thought about the way the V&A exhibits architecture. She was speaking about its collection of drawings and models, but I said its greatest collection was now the building itself, with her as curator, collecting galleries designed by leading talents, while preserving the best of the historic elements. Hers is a legacy fitting to the ambitions of the V&A. From the Sackler Centre to the Medieval & Renaissance Galleries, Moira’s 30

contribution to this collection will culminate in the opening of its most ambitious projects: the new V&A space adjacent to Exhibition Road, designed by A_LA architects, in 2017; and V&A Dundee, designed by Kengo Kuma, in 2018. If the pressure ever got to her, I never saw her falter or sweat – but she would argue. We came to loggerheads once over a news story I’d written about one of her projects at the V&A. She was angry when it went to press, but she never held a grudge. Moira had a rare combination of grace and purpose. She grew up in a farming family in Kintyre, Scotland, and went on to study graphic design and photography at the Glasgow School of Art. As director of projects and design, her work was an extension of the V&A’s original mission, which in her own words was: “To educate designers, manufacturers and the public in the principles of good design. From the very beginning, the building was integral to this mission. As much a part of the exhibits as the objects it housed, it was intended to delight and inspire.” What would the V&A be without its lovely café, the redeveloped Cast Courts, the Ceramics Galleries, even the wonderful toilets – Moira always insisted on “award-winning loos”. Before her death, she had recently taken up a new job for the Royal Collection Trust, to oversee the redevelopment of places such as Windsor and Balmoral Castle. She would have done brilliantly, making these castles feel relevant, contemporary and open to their visitors. Moira was not only a champion of design, believing in its power to make the world a better place to live in, she also believed in people, and knew how to inspire them to do their best work. She was a generous supporter of young talent, and gave many architects their first significant commissions. In 2010 I asked Moira if she would join the jury for the Women in Architecture Awards, founded to help to redress the gender imbalance among architects (the profession is just 30 per cent female). She didn’t hesitate. We would work together over the next four years, with Moira as a passionate member of the jury and a spokesperson for the cause – even giving women architects work through the V&A. Her support inspired me to work harder, and her last email to me was one of encouragement: “Women in architecture need you.” And we need you, Moira, to help us to see the best and most sustainable way to reinvigorate great buildings. I will miss your vision of a bright future carried forth with the best of the past. I will miss all the ways in which you had yet to change the world. I will miss laughing with you, arguing with you and looking up to you as a role model. As for your professional legacy and its power to delight and inspire, well done. Every time I enter those lovely, lightfilled galleries I’ll think of you.

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

Christine Murray is editor of The Architectural Review and founder of the Women in Architecture Awards Left: Moira Gemmill. Photo: Peter Kelleher © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Right: the Medieval & Renaissance Galleries at the V&A. Photo: Thierry Bal © V&A Magazine/Thierry Bal

“As much a part of the exhibits as the objects it housed, from the very beginning the building was intended to delight and inspire�

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


sho es: ple a s ur e a n d p a i n

Over the centuries and all over the world shoes have delighted, defined and decorated their wearers, as well as causing physical and financial grief. Perhaps that’s why the V&A’s new footwear show is called ‘Shoes: Pleasure and Pain’. Caroline Roux investigates

Right: leather and lace platforms, by Nicholas Kirkwood, 2011, photographed on the V&A’s marble staircase in 2014. All photos in this

feature, unless otherwise credited, by Jaron James, V&A Photographic Studio © Victoria and Albert Museum, London 38

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

If the shoe fits... or if it doesn’t

V&A Magazine Summer 2015



sho es: ple a s ur e a n d p a i n

Below: shoes, not books – Katie Porter’s collection, London, 2014


very morning shoe collector Katie Porter wakes up to the sight of 150 pairs of shoes. They are arranged on shelves where others might have books or ornaments: a riot of colours and styles, and a cache of memories. “They remind me where I’ve been,” she says of the collection that contains everything from red Mary Janes emblazoned with “Happy Christmas” to a pair of Alexander McQueen black-and-white boots that she describes as “an adornment – they’re not comfortable, but they are beautiful”. Porter is not alone in her love of footwear. Research claims that British women spent up to £3.5bn on shoes in 2013, and considering the number of shoe shops in any high street or shopping mall, that’s not hard to believe. Even London’s Oxford Street, where rents are spectacularly high, is lined with shoe shops, suggesting they’re doing brisk business. In 2010 Selfridges unveiled a staggering 32,000 sq ft of shoe retailing, and has more than 110,000 pairs in stock at any given moment, selling “several hundreds of thousands” each year. Harrods reacted swiftly, opening its own Shoe Heaven in 2014. It sprawls over 42,000 sq ft.

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

It will be interesting to see if Harrods and Selfridges see a spike in sales between this June and January next year, as visitors to the V&A exhibition ‘Shoes: Pleasure and Pain’ leave the museum, their appetites thoroughly whetted by a display that features 270 pairs that go back to 30BC. The very earliest example, which is in the V&A’s own collection, is a single sandal from ancient Egypt. “It is like a platform flip-flop with a gold leaf insole,” says the show’s curator Helen Persson. “You would have got flashes of that metallic detail as the wearer walked.” Helen, who is the V&A’s curator of Chinese textiles and dress, started thinking about the show several years ago when she was helping to set up the museum’s Clothworkers’ Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion in Blythe House, Olympia. “Every time I went into the stores, I would find amazing footwear,” she says. “Like incredible gold embroidered shoes with tassels and pearls from nineteenth-century India. The parallels with today’s clothes and accessories were immediately obvious – just think of Prada or Dolce & Gabbana – and the fact that the elite have always wanted to demonstrate their position in this way. It runs through all times, and across all cultures. When everyone could be wearing Birkenstocks, why aren’t they?”

On the day we meet in the V&A’s Research Department, Helen is wearing a pair of navy leather court shoes from Hobbs with a snakeskin effect trim. But her most extravagant pair, she tells me, are – just like Katie Porter’s – by Alexander McQueen. “They’re red high heels, decorated with red velvet ribbons. I wore them to the McQueen exhibition opening at the museum in March,” she says. “A pair of shoes like that really changes the way you walk, and the way you feel. Any shoe can change your movement – they instruct your body.” There is also a strong connection between shoes and the laws of desire. “High-heeled shoes are widely regarded as being among the most erotic items of apparel,” says Fashion Institute of Technology director and chief curator Valerie Steele in an essay in the new show’s accompanying book. The reasons are several. Physical ones include the change in gait – the pushing out of the posterior and the arch of the foot, which some say represents the position it adopts during the female orgasm – while cultural ones include the association of heels with sexual availability. Fashion and advertising imagery over the past 50 years has persistently built upon the notion that heels are powerfully sexy. Carine Roitfeld, the former editor of Vogue Paris, who in her

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

Left: gilded and incised leather and papyrus sandal, Egypt, c.30BCE – 300CE. Below: gold tasselled shoes, made of leather, cotton, silk, silver and gilded silver, India, nineteenth century, photographed in the Nehru Gallery of Indian art at the V&A, 2014


sho es: ple a s ur e a n d p a i n

Right: wedding toe-knob paduka, silver and gold over wood, India, 1800s. Facing page: bright blue punched leather mock croc platforms, by Vivienne Westwood, Autumn/Winter 1993–1994 collection © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

time at the magazine promulgated the closest relationship between sex and fashion possible in her editorial choices, has said: “When you wear heels you are very woman, and everything you do is completely different.” But while some women swear by the empowerment of a pair of heels, others still find it more satisfying – and empowering – to be able to run for the bus. While fashionable details in shoes have changed frequently throughout the centuries – a seventeenthcentury Swedish courtier wouldn’t be seen dead in anything but a wide-topped boot; an early nineteenthcentury English woman wanted nothing other than flat, silk, ballerina-style slippers; Gucci couldn’t make enough men’s white snaffled loafers in the 1980s – the materials, shapes and construction have altered surprisingly little. And neither has the way they’ve been used to demonstrate extremities of expression, fashion and fetishisation. “With every other artefact, the tendency is to make it better and stronger. But shoe-making hasn’t changed much and footwear is prone to remarkable decoration across all cultures and all periods,” says Persson. Thus, Indian wedding shoes from 1800, constructed in wood covered with gold and silver, are as extravagant as a Manolo Blahnik pink satin ankle boot encrusted with crystal beads, designed in London in 2014. Persson mentions a favourite exhibit from the show – a “Feet Book” from the bespoke English shoemaker Peal & Co, which started out in 1791 and was catering to clients including Fred Astaire and Steve McQueen before closing in 1965. “The book shows an outline of every customer’s foot, with any problem areas highlighted. It’s a fascinating record of the human body.” Apart from pointing 42

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

out Laurence Olivier’s difficulties with bunions, it also records his rococo-style choices, including black velvet slippers and patent leather button-up boots. The exhibition, though, looks much further back in time: to first-century BC Greece, for example, when sculptures showed women in the sort of soaring platforms we might associate with high fashion today – every bit as elevating and hard to wear as the purple mock croc Vivienne Westwood platforms in which Naomi Campbell took her still-famous catwalk tumble in 1993. They were widely derided in writing of the period, with (male) commentators fuming over female deception, accusing women in platforms of attempting to win men over by appearing seductively tall. In ancient Rome, too, platform shoes were associated with wily feminine ways, though when the Moors took over the Iberian peninsula after the fall of the Roman Empire in the early eighth century, they rejected much of the residual Roman culture, but not the thick cork-soled platforms of the region. By the late fifteenth century the Spanish writer Alfonso Martinez de Toledo wondered whether there was enough cork in Spain to satisfy the desire for ever-higher chopines. In north Africa, Egypt and Turkey, until the nineteenth century, a vertiginous wooden and highly decorated platform shoe became part of the regalia that made the hammam experience even more luxurious and codified, and valuable enough to be considered part of a bride’s dowry. While in sixteenth-century Venice the added height allowed a woman’s skirt to be many centimetres longer – all the better to show off the exquisite textiles upon which the city’s phenomenal wealth was built, as well as the status of the wearer. (The Two

“Sculptures showed women in first-century BC Greece in platforms every bit as hard to wear as Vivienne Westwood’s”

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


sho es: ple a s ur e a n d p a i n

Below: chopines, punched kid leather over carved pine, Venice, c.1600

Venetian Ladies in Vittore Carpaccio’s 1490 painting is an early example of the style.) Spanish colonisation took the platform shoe to Guatemala, and it’s possible that European trading introduced it to China and Japan. (A Manchu woman’s matidi shoes from 1800 are on display in the show, the platforms clad in cream silk, the upper part embroidered with fish swimming through reeds.) Shoes, therefore, become a handy way to chart man’s increasing movement between different territories. And they are socio-political markers too. Just consider the towering men’s platforms in 1970s Europe and North America – part of the glam rock uniform of satin trousers, make-up and feather-cut hair that suggested the wearer’s unshakeable confidence in his own masculinity. Those in the show, made in Canada in 1973, are resplendent with red and yellow stars: objects of decoration and transgression in equal measure. Not that there was anything new about men in heels. “The rise of the heel for men of the elite classes can be traced through the opening up of the political, military and economic networks with central Asia,” explains University of Edinburgh professor of cultural history Christopher Breward in his essay about male footwear for the exhibition’s catalogue. In the riding cultures of

central Asia, the heel had been incorporated into the stirrup itself, before becoming a part of the shoe. Persian men had their stacked wood or leather heels covered in the same gorgeous silks as the upper of the shoe or boot, and by the seventeenth century the same applied in European court attire, though at the court of Louis XIV (1643–1715) red heels became the mark of the courtier. No one of lesser status was allowed to wear them. “A lot of the men’s shoes are less about function and more about power or status,” remarks Persson, “from Beau Brummel’s boots, which were supposed to be polished with champagne, to the bespoke brogues made in Jermyn Street by Foster & Son, or the Prada golf shoes from 2012, which I saw in a runway show and knew we just had to have for the exhibition.” A riot of rhinestones and studs, it’s unlikely that the design was ever worn to play a round. But then shoes are a masterful way to communicate many messages. When the suffragette Mary “Slasher” Richardson stormed into the National Gallery in 1914 to vandalise the Rokeby Venus, she did so in mid-height heels. Suffragettes always wore them to remind onlookers that, in spite of their warrior-like behaviour, they were still women. When Helen Mirren attended the premiere of Red 2 in Los Angeles in 2013, she wore a turquoise gown

“Recent shifts in fashion mean that stars and vamps are as likely to be seen in trainers as heels, boots or shiny shoes” 44

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

and six-inch Lucite stripper heels, presumably to remind us that she’s “still got it”. (The media didn’t agree, and the consensus was more that when it came to good taste, she’d rather lost it.) When Barbara Stanwyck first appears in the 1944 film Double Indemnity, we simply see her cream slingbacks purposefully descending the staircase, and we know in that instant that the wearer is the bearer of trouble. Recent shifts in fashion mean that stars and vamps are as likely to be seen in trainers as heels, boots or shiny shoes. They are worn to accept awards or perform in titillating promo videos. An evolution of the classic rubber-soled shoe originally created for sporting purposes, they have gone from being performance to everyday wear and are now embraced by fashion houses, who are happy to adorn them in diamonds and pearls. Christian Louboutin, the French footwear designer famed for his skyscraper heels, now makes trainers, though they are frequently covered in studs and spikes. The house of Valentino, where once upon a time every female employee had to come to work in heels, now produces sporty shoes in couture camouflage prints. In 2012 the British designer Christopher Kane sent pool slides out in his catwalk show, and in 2013 Phoebe Philo of Céline showed her own versions lined in mink.

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

Left: Manchu women’s matidi shoes, embroidered silk and cotton, China, 1800s. Below: leather, snakeskin and PVC platform sandals, by Terry de Havilland, early 1970s



V&A Magazine Summer 2015

s hoe s : p l e a s ur e a n d p a i n

Jeff, a collector featured in the catalogue, owns more than 1,000 pairs of trainers. His favourite is the Nike Air Jordan 4, which he attributes to the fact that his family couldn’t afford to buy him a pair when he was young. Shoes, then, are sentimental things. Brides keep them, along with the dress. “I started designing bridal shoes in 2011, the year after I got married,” says Charlotte Olympia, a designer known for her 14.5cm heels as well as her velvet “Kitty” slippers embroidered with a cat’s face. “They come complete with a blue seam up the back, for the ‘something blue’, and a shoe tree so they can be looked after properly.” If Jeff has acquired an adidas Primeknit trainer, then he owns the first shoe to challenge classic footwear construction, which still relies on the centuries-old method of welding, nailing, glueing, or sewing together many parts. The Primeknit, launched in 2012, is remarkable for its single-piece knitted upper. “We were invited to take part in an Olympics project in 2008,” says Alexander Taylor, a London-based designer more frequently involved in lighting and furniture. “I’ve always been interested in where textiles and furniture overlap, so I looked at office seating technology, and thought I’d try to make the upper out of one piece instead of the usual fifteen or eighteen. I thought we could use thermoplastic yarn mixed with polyester yarn to create solid structural zones, rather than adding separate components around the heel and toe of the shoe. It would mean less glue, less fabric, and once the tooling up was worked out, you could be making them anywhere in the world.” It turned out Taylor was right, and he has gone on to create football boots using the same principle. Neither was he alone – shortly after the adidas launch, Nike introduced the Flyknit. “It turns

out they’d been working on it for years too,” says Taylor. Though innovation is rare, it does happen. The stiletto heel, for example, which first appeared in the late nineteenth century but really found favour in the 1950s, was the result of creating a central metal rod to build the heel around, rather than using layers of the traditional softer materials, wood and leather. And at the V&A visitors will see the introduction of newer technologies, such as Zaha Hadid’s exuberant rubber, fibreglass and leather rotation-moulded constructions for United Nude. (The resulting shoe, in four stacked, ribbed parts, looks remarkably like one of the architect’s buildings.) “We’re looking at 3D printing and flat-pack shoes, too, but so far this has led to pieces which are more like artworks than wearables,” says Persson. And for the technologically minded, in the exhibition catalogue there is British designer Dominic Wilcox’s “No Place Like Home” GPS shoes, where a destination can be downloaded into the shoe and a ring of red lights in it tells the wearer which direction to go. A brave attempt to walk into the future of footwear.

Facing page: men’s golf shoes, by Prada, leather, rhinestones and studs, Italy, 2012. Above left: “Lovebird” sandals, by Jimmy Choo, leather, feathers and crystals, 2013. Above: “NOVA”, by Zaha Hadid for United Nude. Courtesy United Nude

Caroline Roux is the deputy editor of The Gentlewoman and the architecture expert at Telegraph Luxury. She writes about contemporary art and design for the Financial Times, Wallpaper*, W magazine and Vanity Fair on Art. She takes a European size 35.5 ‘Shoes: Pleasure and Pain’, V&A, London SW7 (020 7942 2000,, 13 June – 31 January. The exhibition is sponsored by Clarks and supported by Agent Provocateur, with additional thanks to The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers V&A Magazine Summer 2015



V&A Magazine Summer 2015

s hoe s : p l e a s ur e a n d p a i n

“It lengthens the line of the leg, creating a long, sinuous ‘S’ that starts with the thigh muscle, continues through the calf and finds its final flourish in the high arch of the instep.” Former ballerina Deborah Bull reveals the secrets of that very special shoe, the pointe – and how to make it perfect

Getting to the pointe


f the many questions I was asked over my twenty years as a professional dancer, the vast majority related in some way to that pearly pink symbol of the ballerina’s poise – the pointe shoe. Sometimes it was “how long do they last?” Occasionally, “how much do they cost?” But more often than not, what the interlocutor really wanted to

know was “does it hurt?” I started to dance at the age of seven. Not particularly early and certainly not too late, but it took three years of training to develop the strength, technique and physical maturity that are required before a student can begin to dance on pointe. I still have my first pointe shoes – not much bigger than my adult hand – and looking at them is enough to bring back the sensation of climbing into them for the first time: the scratchy hard block hugging my toes, the unrelenting rigidity of the stiff leather soles, the unfamiliar proximity of toenails to the floor. It’s a strange posture, the foot on pointe, but it’s not unique to dancers. Perhaps it’s not surprising that Degas was fascinated by both the dancer and the horse, as we have something particular in common: we both stand in equine, a fact I discovered when a physician used textbook terminology to request X-rays of my ankle. This extreme position is not an aberration, nor is it dangerous. On pointe, the bones of the lower leg, ankle and foot align exactly, a vertical plumb line on which the body’s weight centres. The shoes provide support and help to retain the all-important alignment, but it’s the strength in the feet and legs, developed over years of training, that allows the dancer to balance, bourrée and flit blithely on the tips of her toes. The shoes I wore throughout my career were Freeds, “handmade in London since 1929”, when Frederick Freed set up his own ballet shoe business in direct competition with his previous employers. Then, as now, they were made inside out using the traditional “turn shoe” method. The maker starts with the box (the hardened part around the toes), building it up layer by layer from triangles of hessian, paper and glue and then pleating the satin using metal pincers, before stitching the sole to the upper with wax thread. Only at this point is the shoe turned the right way and the insole inserted. Finally, the maker puts his mark on the sole, hammering the box into his own signature shape (and, when appropriate, taking into account the specific requests of individual dancers who want a “bit more length” here, or a “bit of give” there). Freed craftsmen create around 50 pairs of ballet shoes every day.

Left: Deborah Bull as Odette/Odile in the Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House, London, 3 October 1995. Photo: Sue Adler/ArenaPAL

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


“T  he human body is remarkable. It will take almost anything you throw at it, as long as you throw it systematically and over time�

Above: ballet shoes made by Freed of London for Moira Shearer as Victoria Page in The Red Shoes, 1948. Northampton Museums and Art Gallery. Right: Deborah Bull. Courtesy United Agents 50

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

s hoe s : p l e a s ur e a n d p a i n Once the shoes were in my hands, they went through another process of adjustment, a ritual of preparation unique to each dancer. I’d rip out the nail that held together inner and outer soles, fracture the back at a precise spot an inch and a half from the heel, cut away the satin around the toes’ tips, slash the soles to improve grip, attach ribbons and elastics and bash them against a concrete floor to dampen their noise. Only at that point would they be given a chance in the studio to prove they might make it on stage. Each pair was worn for ten minutes, no more, and then hardened with shellac for a second brief outing before I made my decision. On each sole I’d make notes: “good for turns”, “bit soft”, or (rarely) “perfect”. The superstars were stacked in the performance pile and the rest stuffed into a bag marked “rehearsal”. The earliest ballet dancers didn’t have to contend with any of this. They danced in soft slippers, with low heels that limited the complexity and speed of movements. As technique advanced, the heels came off, and then, during the eighteenth century, the idea of dancing on pointe was introduced. No one is quite sure which ballerina was the first, but there is a lovely description of Anna Heinel dancing on “stilt-like tip toe” as early as 1770. Pointe shoes were no more than leather-soled satin slippers with padded toes, but the

technique became more and more widespread over the next 50 years, with the Oxford Dictionary of Dance noting both Geneviève Gosselin and Avdotia Istomina dancing on pointe before 1820. Ballerinas who had mastered the trick travelled from city to city across Europe, and before long they were all doing it. Poised to take flight, on the very tips of their toes, the balletic heroines of the period were the embodiment of the nineteenth-century Romantic ideal: the writing of Goethe and Hoffman, the paintings of Fuseli and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique found their parallels on stage in ballets such as Giselle and La Sylphide. Personally, I’d hesitate to recommend ballet shoes for use outside the studio, but, nevertheless, the ballet “pump” seems to have become ubiquitous over recent years. Perhaps it is “pretty and practical”, as one fashion website claims, or “wear with anything”, as another suggests. Or perhaps it connects back to long-forgotten childhood dreams of tulle, tiaras and fairy tale princes. But I’m not so sure. Ballet dancers are rarely seen flat-footed. Ballet flats are workaday, symbolising earthiness and toil: in the great classical ballets, it’s the peasant folk and villagers who appear in flats. Princesses always dance on pointe, a symbol of their place in the hierarchy and their air of otherworldliness. The beauty of the pointe shoe is that it lengthens the line of the leg, creating a long, sinuous “S” that starts with the thigh muscle, continues through the calf and finds its final flourish in the high arch of the ballerina’s instep. The problem with the ballet pump is that it misses the point. And to that oft-asked question? The answer, mostly, is no. The human body is remarkable – it will take almost anything you throw at it, as long as you throw it systematically and over time. It’s not the answer most people want to hear, but for a professional dancer, with the right training and the right shoes, pointe work is rarely painful. It’s just another part of the job. Deborah Bull danced with the Royal Ballet for twenty years, rising through the ranks to become principal dancer. She has been creative director of the Royal Opera House Executive and in 2012 became director, culture, at King’s College London. She has written and presented extensively for television and radio, including the award-winning The Dancer’s Body and Travels with my Tutu (BBC2), and is author of The Vitality Plan (1998), Dancing Away (1998), The Faber Pocket Guide to Ballet (2005) and The Everyday Dancer (2011). She is currently a member of the Arts & Humanities Research Council. In 1998 Bull was awarded a CBE for her contribution to the arts

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


In love (and lust ) with those



V&A Magazine Summer 2015

s hoe s : p l e a s ur e a n d p a i n

“When I entered a house and saw the boots arranged in a row, I would tremble with pleasure.” Why do women’s shoes become an erotic object in the minds of so many men? Jesse Bering uncovers the essence of foot fetishism


f all the non-reproductive body parts arousing sexual interest, the most common, by far, is the foot. And just as lingerie is to the genitalia, footwear is also frequently eroticised, becoming for many fetishists “an aid to tumescence”, as the British sexologist Havelock Ellis rather indelicately put it. “In a small but not inconsiderable minority of persons,” wrote Ellis in his 1927 book Studies in the Psychology of Sex, “the foot or boot becomes the most attractive part of a woman, and in some morbid cases the woman herself is regarded as a comparatively unimportant appendage.” Consider, for instance, the case of the eighteenth-century French novelist Rétif de la Bretonne, whose irreverent works are filled with sordid tales of his foot-related fancies. (The eponymous “retifism” is an arcane term for foot fetishism.) “This taste for the beauty of the feet,” reflects Rétif of his upbringing in Burgundy, “was so powerful in me that it unfailingly aroused desire… When I entered a house and saw the boots arranged in a row, as is the custom, I would tremble with pleasure; I blushed and lowered my eyes as if in the presence of the girls themselves.” What was especially enticing about shoes to Rétif, Ellis tells us, was his knowledge that they had absorbed the essence of the feet he so desired. “He would kiss with rage and transport whatever had come in close contact with the woman he adored.” In fact, he wished desperately to be buried with a distinctive pair of green slippers with rose heels and borders worn by a woman whose feet he’d long been enamoured by. This intense craving for objects that have made intimate physical contact with the real subject of desire lies at the heart of sexual fetishism. For those who are aroused by feet, a pair of brand new, unworn, store-bought shoes is far less desirable than footwear still warm from an attractive owner’s aromatic soles. In order for the object to become a sexual surrogate, in other words, it must first be imbued

Left: shocking-pink leather stiletto heeled boots, by Jimmy Choo, 2005. Photo: Jaron

James, V&A Photographic Studio © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

(as if by contagion or magic) with the singular characteristics of the person who inspires lust. Like most patterns of atypical sexual desire, there are far more men who are self-professed foot fetishists than there are females. Many of these men believe that the seeds of their yearnings were planted through some innocuous encounter with feet or shoes at a young age. And within this “podophilic” group there is also considerable diversity, including gay and bisexual shoe lovers. In a study of gay male foot fetishists, subjects reported becoming most excited by the sensory tapestry they’d come to associate with the stereotypical shoe styles of their preferred sexual partners. “[It’s] the odours and the corresponding image,” explained one of the interviewees, “docksiders and preppies, sneakers and young punks, boots and dominant men.” For straight men, however, it is most often the petite female foot that serves as the aesthetic ideal, and so it is the small, delicate shoe that has captured the male imagination in both myth and reality. The famous story of Cinderella’s glass slipper has its roots in an ancient Egyptian legend in which a courtesan’s sandal is carried off by an eagle and dropped in the king’s lap, who would not rest until he made the owner of that impossibly small shoe his queen. Perhaps nowhere were women’s demure feet appreciated more than in China, with its ancient practice of female “foot binding” (there are still ageing survivors of it in some rural areas). Although the precise origins behind this painful ritual – one in which young girls’ feet were tightly bound so that they atrophied permanently into small stumps – are hotly debated, the earliest examples of Chinese pornography show men fondling women’s tiny feet. Some scholars have likened it to the use of corsets by European women in the Victorian era, whereby an inherently desirable attribute (whether a slim waist or small foot) is further accentuated through a contemporary, if cruel, fashion trend. It may not be as inhumane as foot binding, but women’s wearing of high heels, which has the effect of making their feet appear smaller, can be painful in its own right. With too-frequent use, these stylish yet merciless must-haves have been known to convert the perfect female foot into a hammer-toed, callused appendage replete with bunions and corns. In some women, they’ve led to shattered ankle bones, chronic lower back pain and even osteoarthritis of the knees.

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


“ It may just be that certain similarities between shoes and anatomical parts lead to those telltale stirrings in our loins�


V&A Magazine Summer 2015

s hoe s : p l e a s ur e a n d p a i n

So what is it that makes ladies the world over so eager to stuff their tender feet into these contraptions that, while beautiful, pose real health risks? According to the evolutionary psychologist Paul Morris, it all has to do with sex appeal. Specifically, walking in high heels greatly exaggerates the innately feminine gait. “When wearing high heels compared with flats,” explains Morris, “women take smaller and more frequent steps, they bend their knees and hips less, and more rotation and tilt occur at the hips.” Women’s decision to wear high heels is not a conscious mating tactic, argue Morris and his colleagues, but this pronounced female stride entices most men none the less. One provocative hypothesis holds that the cultural eroticisation of the female foot is not a stable feature of society, but related to epidemiological flare-ups of sexually transmitted infections. During such periodic outbreaks, the argument goes, it is safer to direct one’s carnal attention to a non-reproductive body part (such as feet) than to a genital receptacle of venereal disease. Indeed, foot fetishism was especially prevalent during the gonorrhea epidemic in the thirteenth century, syphilis in the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries and AIDS most recently. In medieval Spain, painters began specialising in portraits of the female foot for the first time in history, and shoe styles showing a teasing bit of women’s “toe cleavage” were all the rage. Then again, the foregoing analyses, invoking symbolism and cognitive representation, might very well be over complicating a far simpler affair when it comes to the curious relationship between sex and shoes. In some cases at least, it may just be certain similarities between shoes and anatomical parts that lead to those telltale stirrings in our loins. After all, if a glistening, wet rubber boot – reminiscent, perhaps, of the swollen backside of a receptive female – can trigger an ejaculation in a chimpanzee, as has been shown, who knows what a designer heel can do for the average man? Jesse Bering is associate professor of science communication at the University of Otago, New Zealand. He is the author of Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us (Random House, 2013) Left: fabric and leather stilettoes, by Casadei for Fausto Puglisi, 2014. Right: patent leather “Tribute II” sandals, by Yves Saint Laurent, 2014. Photos: Jaron James, V&A

Photographic Studio © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

V&A Magazine Summer 2015



V&A Magazine Summer 2015

Ca p t a i n Li n n a eus T r i p e : Ph ot ogr a p h er of In di a a n d B ur ma , 1852–1860

How an officer in the East India Company army discovered his natural talent for the new-fangled medium of photography and went on to document India and Burma for the British Empire. John Falconer tells the story of Linnaeus Tripe, a long-neglected master

The captain, the camera and an expanding empire

Left: Linnaeus Tripe, Royacottah: View from the Top of the Hill, Looking NorthNorthwest and by North, 1857–1858 © Collection of Charles Isaacs and Carol Nigro V&A Magazine Summer 2015


Capta in Linna e us T ri p e : Pho tog r a ph e r of In di a an d B u rm a, 1 8 5 2 – 186 0


fter ten years’ service as a young officer in the East India Company’s army, the distinctively named Linnaeus Tripe came home to England in 1851 on his first leave. His return came at a propitious time for his future involvement with photography: the Great Exhibition of that year saw the medium displayed for the first time to a wide general audience, which flocked to this extravagant celebration of modern technology, design and applied art. The early years of the 1850s were to see a blossoming of photography, both at a commercial level and through amateur associations and societies. While the precise date of Tripe’s own introduction is uncertain, his election as a founding member of the Photographic Society of London in February 1853 establishes that he too was entranced by its descriptive power and potential for artistic expression. The small surviving group of views of his native Devonport taken during this three-year period of home leave signal both an individual eye and technical expertise in the manipulations of large-format photography, but it was to be in the East that his talents were developed and refined. Tripe lost no time in putting his newly acquired skills to the test in the unforgiving climate of south India. In December 1854, only a few months after his return to duty, he travelled cross-country from Bangalore with his colleague Dr Andrew Neill to make a photographic record of the richly sculptured Hoysala temples at Halebid and Belur. This work – consisting of around 100 negatives – provided an organised and comprehensive photographic survey of these celebrated sites. Taken in a private capacity, but clearly foreshadowing the future direction of his ambitions, the expedition may well have been intended as a demonstration of photography’s aptitude for archaeological and architectural documentation and an advertisement of his own suitability to undertake such work. In any event, these photographs, glowingly reviewed when they were exhibited in Madras in early 1855, coincided with the adoption of photography as a tool of record by the Indian authorities and placed Tripe in a position to benefit from the growing official interest in the medium.


News of the introduction of photography in 1839 had quickly spread to India, and while a few early pioneers had struggled to master the new technology, photographers’ attempts to establish a foothold throughout the 1840s met with limited success. But by the mid-1850s this unpromising situation had been transformed: commercial studios were starting to make their presence felt and flourishing photographic societies were active in the three presidency capitals of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. These supplied information to those striving to practise photography in challenging Indian conditions, as well as acting as forums for discussion, exhibitions and lectures. The support of the East India Company gave further encouragement – in 1854, aware of the escalating costs of employing artists to document India’s material culture, the directors recommended the use of “photography on paper” and offered to supply equipment. This absorption of the medium into the arsenal of the colonial government’s information-gathering resources, allied to events on the country’s eastern borders, resulted in a major opportunity for Linnaeus Tripe. In the course of three wars of encroachment between 1824 and 1885, the expanding imperial domains of British India swallowed up the Burmese empire. The conclusion of the second of these conflicts in 1853 saw the British occupying the province of Pegu, precipitating the overthrow of King Pagan Min and the accession of his half-brother, Mindon Min. While the latter assumed that in due course his land would be returned to him, this formed no part of British plans, and in 1855 the Governor-General Lord Dalhousie proposed that a mission should be sent to the Burmese court at Ava to persuade the king to sign a treaty transferring the conquered territory to British rule. In addition to its stated diplomatic objective – about which Dalhousie entertained little hope of success – the mission was seen as a rare opportunity to gather information about a country hitherto largely closed to Western penetration. To this end, its personnel included officers whose duties were to investigate and survey the land, its people and culture and to explore its commercial potential. Significantly, Dalhousie considered that a visual record “would

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

Above: Linnaeus Tripe, Amerapoora: Colossal Statue of Gautama Close to the North End of the Wooden Bridge, 1855 Š Collection of Charles Isaacs and Carol Nigro V&A Magazine Summer 2015



V&A Magazine Summer 2015

C ap ta in L inna eu s T ri p e : Photog r a ph e r o f In di a an d B u rm a, 1 8 5 2–1 86 0

convey to the Government a better idea of the natural features of the neighbouring Kingdom of Burmah than any written report”, and that “sketches of the people and of cities and palaces… would give a life and interest to the future report of the Mission”. The Calcutta artist Colesworthy Grant was appointed, but it proved difficult to find a suitable photographer in Bengal. However, Dalhousie was evidently aware of Tripe’s work in south India, where he was considered “very highly qualified in his field”, and he also was selected to accompany the mission. The party with its military escort left Rangoon on 1 August 1855, steaming upriver on the Irrawaddy towards the Burmese capital. Among the 59 crates of gifts designed to impress and gratify an Eastern potentate were textiles, jewellery, candelabra and swords, as well as more diverting amusements such as musical birds, a pianola and a polyrama (a popular optical toy presenting dissolving views of Paris by day and night). Scientific instruments, such as telescopes and sextants, were chosen with the queen in mind, since she was known to be of a “scientific turn”, with a particular interest in astronomy. Interestingly, news of photography had also reached the Burmese court, and to satisfy the king’s interest in “sun pictures”, a “very fine photographic and Daguerreotype apparatus” was also to be presented to him. The mission reached Amarapura at the end of August and remained in the royal capital for six weeks, during which time the senior members were received in audience by the king on a number of occasions. Although Mindon refused to ratify the treaty, he emphasised his wish for good relations with British India. While these diplomatic exchanges were underway, the artists remained hard at work. Grant’s paintings and Tripe’s 50 or so photographs of Amarapura and its surroundings represent a unique record of the royal capital in its final days, before the removal of the court to Mandalay. Tripe’s attempts to teach photography to a member of the king’s household bore little fruit. The “desultory attendance” of this man, allied to difficulties of communicating the technical niceties involved, led to predictable results. The photographic equipment brought from Calcutta was no doubt stored away to gather dust in

“Tripe’s 50 or so photographs of Amarapura and its surroundings represent a unique record of the royal capital in its final days”

the palace, but his pictures excited the curiosity and interest of the local population, who appeared gratified by British admiration of Burmese architecture. Some restrictions were placed on the officers’ movements, since the intelligence-gathering element of the mission was clear to the Burmese, but excursions were made as far upriver as Mingun. Here, Tripe photographed King Bodawpaya’s great crumbling stupa (unfinished and damaged by the earthquake of 1839). Much of what artist and photographer recorded is today destroyed or submerged beneath vegetation, although a few structures pictured by the latter (such as the U Bein Bridge and the leaning tower at Ava) remain easily recognisable. They also stopped to explore the great plain of temples at Bagan, and here Tripe made the first photographs of the major landmarks of the site. “Pagan surprised us all,” the mission’s secretary Henry Yule later wrote in his account of the journey. “None of the preceding travellers to Ava had prepared us for remains of such importance and interest.” In his hurried survey he found time to note not only the great temple remains, but also the wooden architecture of the monasteries, “rich and effective beyond description; photography only could do it justice”. Tripe’s recurring concentration on the intricate details of Burmese wood-carved buildings, in contrast to Grant’s generally more distant watercolours, highlighted photography’s labour-saving advantages as a descriptive medium. Despite the lack of concrete results in the form of a treaty, the mission was considered worthwhile in establishing good relations with the friendly and outward-looking Burmese king, who was aware both of the threat posed by European imperial ambitions and of the positive benefits to be gained from Western technology. On his return to Calcutta, Yule produced a comprehensive report, illustrated with the work of Grant and Tripe. Published first in 1856 for limited circulation and in a more public version in 1858, A Narrative of the Mission sent by the Governor-General of India to the Court of Ava in 1855 presented the most detailed account to date of the geography, geology, people and customs of upper Burma. Tripe had taken more than 200 large-format waxed paper negatives in the course of the mission, and back in India he oversaw the

Left: Linnaeus Tripe, Madura: Trimul Naik’s Choultry, Side Veranda from West, 1858 Courtesy The British Library, London

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


Capta in Linna e us T ri p e : Pho tog r a ph e r of In di a an d B u rm a, 1 8 5 2 – 186 0

printing of a selected series of 120 views, which were issued in portfolio form. Production of 50 sets of the portfolio was not completed until early in 1857, and with each set he inserted a self-deprecating note asking that the work be judged not in terms of photographic excellence, but as a record of subjects “interesting on account of their novelty”. Poor weather, sickness and other duties had limited his photographic working time to 36 days, and “if criticism be provoked, it is trusted that her chiding will be mild”. In fact, his elegant studies of the architecture and scenery of upper Burma, the medium’s first extensive encounter with this hidden country, remain one of the great achievements of nineteenth-century photography. Quite aside from their unique importance as records, these grainy, soft-toned and atmospheric renderings of temples, palaces and townscapes remain among the most compelling evocations of Burma produced by the camera. The 50 sets requested by the government clearly indicate lack of knowledge on the part of the authorities of the labour required in such large-scale production. As well as the difficulties of actual printing, Tripe applied extensive retouching to almost every negative in order to give form and character to skies, which the photographic chemistry of the period tended to render washed-out and featureless. Further retouching was done to foliage to improve its appearance. The demands of such work – more than 6,500 mounted prints (more than 9,000 including rejects) – are a striking demonstration of the man’s adherence to an aesthetic vision far beyond the requirements of pure documentation. In March 1857 Tripe took up a fresh appointment as photographer to the government of Madras. His principal task was to service the need for reliable visual evidence of India’s architectural heritage – to, in his own words, “secure before they disappear the objects in the Presidency that are interesting to the Antiquary, Sculptor, Mythologist, and Historian”. The lack of such documentation was becoming increasingly felt by researchers in Indian history in a period when architectural and archaeological investigation was becoming less the province of the amateur antiquarian and forming itself into a scholarly discipline. In succeeding decades photography would

Right: Linnaeus Tripe, Pugahm Myo: Gauda-palen Pagoda, 1855 Courtesy The British Library, London 62

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


Capta in Linna e us T ri p e : Pho tog r a ph e r of In di a an d B u rm a, 1 8 5 2 – 186 0

“Tripe was to be the most distinguished of the small band of photographers who spearheaded the first – often faltering – initiatives”

Above: Linnaeus Tripe, Seeringham: Great Pagoda, Munduppum inside Gateway, 1858 Courtesy The British Library, London. Right: Linnaeus Tripe, Pugahm Myo: Carved Doorway in Courtyard of Shwe Zeegong Pagoda, 1855 © National Gallery of Art, Washington 64

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


Capta in Linna e us T ri p e : Pho tog r a ph e r of In di a an d B u rm a, 1 8 5 2 – 186 0

Above: Linnaeus Tripe, Madura: The Great Pagoda Jewels, 1858 © The Metropolitan

Museum of Art 66

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

“Everything speaks in a language that cannot be mistaken, that a brighter day has already dawned in India”

gradually become a standard tool of record, integrated within the work of the Archaeological Survey of India, but Tripe was to be the most distinguished of the small band of photographers who spearheaded these first – often faltering – initiatives. In mid-December 1857 he left Bangalore with four bullocks of equipment and supplies on a demanding four-and-a-half-month tour through rough country that would take him southwards as far as the great temple city of Madurai, before heading north east and finally reaching Madras at the end of April 1858. During this great loop through the modern state of Tamil Nadu, he visited and photographed the major temple sites (among them Seeringham and Thanjavur) as well as hill forts and palaces, and the occasional striking landscape. Among the most remarkable images of his 290 negatives from this journey—not least in terms of technical ingenuity and novelty—is the nineteen-foot-long panorama, composed from 21 joined prints, recording the inscription running round the base of the Brihadeshvara Temple at Thanjavur. By August 1858 he was once more at Bangalore, setting up his establishment to print the results of his travels. With the agreement of government, these were made available in a published series of nine slim folio volumes devoted to specific locations, the pasted-in prints accompanied by descriptive notes by several different authors. Such a method of presentation absorbed his work within the orbit of a wider colonial context, as when JAC Boswell, commenting on Tripe’s portrayal of the irrigated and cultivated land surrounding Rayakota Hill, invites the viewer to inspect a landscape where “everything speaks in a language that cannot be mistaken, that a brighter day has already dawned in India”. If Tripe’s photographs could be harnessed to the interests of British India by such means, wider historical events were also to have a more direct impact on his ambitions. In stating his original plans for his post as government photographer, he had outlined a comprehensive documentary programme, underwritten by government, which would encompass “customs, dress, occupations… arms, implements, and musical instruments”, as well as architectural subjects. At the time his appointment had attracted some criticism as an

unjustified luxury in the increasingly straitened circumstances of the 1850s. But the economies imposed in the aftermath of the Uprising of 1857–1858 brought such concerns to a head and precipitated an end to the whole project. In mid-1859 Sir Charles Trevelyan, recently appointed Governor of Madras, shocked by the expense of this largescale photographic production, ordered the immediate closure of Tripe’s establishment – “an article of high luxury which is unsuited to the present state of our finances” – and by the spring of 1860 his photographic activities had ceased. The abrupt termination of his appointment, coming at a moment he considered merely the beginning of his pictorial investigations of India, must have been a bitter blow. But in a photographic career effectively lasting little more than five years and centred on three bodies of work, Tripe had established a reputation in the subcontinent as a masterful and sympathetic interpreter of architectural form, revealed in his characteristic use of long receding perspectives and a sometimes near-abstract balancing of light and shadow. Even in India, however, his work was soon practically forgotten, and in the world beyond was largely disregarded by his contemporaries. Tripe appears to have abandoned photography entirely (apart from a minor series of views made in Burma in around 1870) and for a century his work languished in obscurity. But in recent decades it has become increasingly valued by students of photography as the product of a sophisticated and sensitive artistic eye, allied to a rare technical mastery of the paper negative process. The V&A’s comprehensive survey of his art will at last introduce one of the lesser-known masters of nineteenth-century photography to a wide modern audience. John Falconer is lead curator, prints, drawings and photographs at the British Library, with a particular interest in nineteenth-century photography in Asia, about which he has published extensively ‘Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma, 1852–1860’, V&A, London SW7 (020 7942 2000,, 24 June – 11 October

V&A Magazine Summer 2015



Artist Duffy Ayers, first wife of Michael Rothenstein and one of the early members of the Great Bardfield community of artists, will be 100 later this year. On the eve of the publication of a new V&A book, Bawden, Ravilious and the Artists of Great Bardfield, Mark Eastment and Gill Saunders look at how a quiet Essex village became the focus of national and international interest with the first open studios in the country. Photos Julian Anderson

Duf f y Ayers : a story of not-so-everyday ar t i s t i c c o u n t r y f o l k Above: the staircase in Duffy Ayers’s home showing her drawing of Anne Rothenstein as a child, c.1955, (centre) and The Mills of God Grind Slowly, a drawing by Michael Rothenstein, date unknown, (top). Right: Duffy Ayers, April 2015. Photographs by Julian Anderson Š V&A Magazine/ Julian Anderson


V&A Magazine Summer 2015

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


t he AR T IS TS OF G R E AT B A RDF I E L D A reporter claims to have overheard the following in one of the pubs. First villager: “Lot o’ peculiar folk knocking about.” Second villager: “Aye, an’ lots o’ peculiar pictures in this exhibition.” First villager: “One I see’d looked a bit mucky to me. It weren’t like it said at all.” Second villager: “It ain’t meant to be. It’s Art, that is.” – Bolton Evening News, 27 July 1955, reporting on the Great Bardfield open studios



rom the early nineteenth century, when Samuel Palmer, with a group of like-minded fellow artists, settled in the village of Shoreham in Kent, artists have established colonies and communities in the countryside. They left behind industrial cities to live and work in small rural groups where they took inspiration from their surroundings and the local people. By the early twentieth century there were more than 80 recorded, some flourishing, others short-lived. Many of the best known of these communities of artists were established in France – at Giverny, Honfleur and Barbizon, for example – but the idea took hold around the world with groups in Russia, Sweden, Australia and the United States. In England, St Ives is rightly celebrated as one of the foremost artist colonies, with many notable figures having lived and worked there, including Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and Patrick Heron. Nicholson encouraged a local fisherman, Alfred Wallis, to paint, and Wallis’s “primitive” style influenced Nicholson’s work and that of Christopher Wood. Some gravitated to St Ives seeking a temporary escape from their usual surroundings; others came to collaborate with those who were settled there. Such visitors included Stanley Spencer, Piet Mondrian and Mark Rothko (who stayed for just three days). But St Ives was by no means the only place where artists and designers congregated. There were many others in England, including Broadway, Chipping Campden, Ditchling, Newlyn and Walberswick. Missing from this list, however, is an artistic community that deserves to be better known – Great Bardfield, the subject of a forthcoming book published by the V&A. Great Bardfield is a small village (current population around 1,200 people) in north-west Essex, 45 miles outside London and twelve miles south-east of Saffron Walden. Numerous timberframed buildings date back to the fourteenth century, when it was a busy market town. In the sixteenth century Anne of Cleves was supposedly given the village as part of her divorce settlement, and several buildings in the area are associated with her. This early phase is complemented by many attractive eighteenth and nineteenth-century buildings, including the Quaker Meeting House, which dates from 1804. It was here, in this modest village, that a community of around twenty artists and designers flourished in the decades before and after the Second World War. Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious, while still in their twenties and having only recently completed their studies at the Royal College of Art, first visited Great Bardfield in 1931. Arriving on bikes, they found lodgings in Brick House on the main High Street. At the RCA both had been taught by John Nash and they found the Essex countryside provided them with the inspiration they needed to paint and draw, especially after having been introduced to the works of Francis Towne, John Sell Cotman and Samuel Palmer, whose reputations were being favourably reappraised after many years of neglect. Such was their delight in the area that Bawden and Ravilious went on to rent rooms in Brick House, using them as bases in which to paint. During this time, Ravilious met artist and wood engraver Eileen Lucy “Tirzah” Garwood, whom he married, despite her family’s opposition, with Bawden as his best man. A couple of years later Bawden married the artist and potter Charlotte Epton and was fortunate enough to have been bought Brick House as a wedding present from his father.

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

Facing page, top: Duffy Ayers at Ethel House, Great Bardfield, c.1952. Bottom: Richard Bawden, Map of Great Bardfield showing artists’ houses. Fry Art Gallery, presented by the artist. Clockwise from above: Duffy Ayers, Figure with Scarf, 1980. Fry Art Gallery, presented by Mrs Edwin Smith (Olive Cook); Duffy​Ayers with Michael

Rothenstein, c.1946; Duffy Ayers,

Portrait of Tirzah, 1944. Anne Ullmann (née Ravilious) Collection

V&A Magazine Summer 2015



Clockwise from top: Eric Ravilious, Attic Bedroom, c.1934.

Fry Art Gallery, purchased with assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund; George Chapman, Portrait of Eric Ayers, 1974, in Duffy Ayers’s home. Photograph by Julian Anderson © V&A Magazine/ Julian Anderson; Tirzah Ravilious, Brick House Kitchen, 1931– 1932. Private collection; Michael Rothenstein, The Red House (and Road Signs), 1956. Victoria and Albert Museum, London 72

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

“ J o h n A ldr idg e ’s arr i v al quit e a n no y e d Ba wd e n and Ra v i l iou s , wh o f e l t he posed a c ha l l e ng e t o t he ir po si ti on in th e v il l age ”

The Bawdens soon invited the Raviliouses to share their home, and while the men painted, Charlotte and Tirzah not only kept house but also worked on their own creative projects. Together they made beautiful marbled papers that were sold through the Curwen Press. However, this cosy domestic arrangement was short-lived, with the wives finally agreeing there couldn’t be two cooks in one kitchen. Towards the end of 1934 Eric and Tirzah moved out to nearby Castle Hedingham, although the couples remained lifelong friends. RCA friends were regular visitors, among them Thomas Hennell, who ended up lodging with Bawden and Ravilious, Enid Marx, Barnett Freedman, Evelyn Dunbar, Douglas Percy Bliss and Peggy Richards (later Peggy Angus). Nearby neighbours Cedric Morris, John Nash and Arthur Lett-Haines (later responsible for forming the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing, whose students included Lucian Freud and Maggi Hambling) came not only to admire their friends’ work, but also to share gardening tips and swap plant cuttings. In 1933, not long after Bawden and Ravilious had settled in Great Bardfield, John Aldridge moved into the rather grand Place House, where he was later joined by his lover Lucie Leeds Brown. Aldridge’s arrival quite annoyed Bawden and Ravilious, who felt he posed a challenge to their position in the village, but this resentment did not last, and a few years later Bawden and Aldridge worked together to design a series of hand-blocked wallpapers (marketed as the “Bardfield” papers) for Cole & Sons. With the start of the war in September 1939, there were major disruptions to the community. Several members of the group were appointed as official war artists, and a number of the villagers left to serve in the armed forces. London evacuees were billeted in Great Bardfield and the surrounding villages, while the Raviliouses took in a German refugee and the Bawdens hosted two fugitives from the Spanish Civil War. As the war progressed, making life in capital difficult and dangerous, more artists arrived, and bought or rented property in the village or nearby. Most notable was Michael Rothenstein with his wife Elizabeth, known to all as Duffy. Duffy was born Elizabeth Fitzgerald – along with an identical twin sister – to an American mother and an Irish father in September 1915. Having studied at Saint Martin’s School of Art, she met and married Rothenstein in 1938. They moved to Great Bardfield in 1941, first to Chapel Cottage, and then, in 1942, to Ethel House. Michael had suffered a debilitating illness, which had left him unfit for military service – but he was one of 97 artists commissioned to record scenes of English life and landscape threatened variously by war and the impact of development. By the time this scheme, known initially as “Recording the Changing Face of Britain” and later as “Recording Britain”, ended in 1943, more than 1,500 watercolours and drawings of places and buildings of characteristic national interest had been completed. (These are now in the V&A’s collection, and the whole venture has been thoroughly documented in the 2011 book Recording Britain). Another prolific contributor to the scheme was Kenneth Rowntree. He too moved to Great Bardfield, arriving with his pregnant wife Diana in 1941. As a pacifist Quaker and conscientious objector, he refused military service and was ineligible to work as an official war artist, so he was happy to find employment with Recording Britain. He painted a number of scenes in Bardfield and beyond, including a study of the interior of the Friends Meeting House. Rothenstein, meanwhile, gradually abandoned painting, and began to focus on printmaking, a field in which he was to become pre-eminent.

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


“ Th e ‘ O pen House’ fo r tni gh ts a tt ra c ted a hug e numbe r o f v i si tors – at the last one B a wden c laim ed 9,000 p eo ple had been t hrou gh hi s ho me”

Clockwise from above: Edward Bawden, The Bell, 1949, published in Life in an English Village, 1949. King Penguin Books; Kenneth Rowntree, Interior of Friends Meeting House, Great Bardfield, Essex, 1942. Victoria and Albert Museum, London; two paintings by Anne Rothenstein, c.1985, in Duffy Ayers’s home. Photograph by Julian

Anderson © V&A Magazine/Julian Anderson; John Aldridge, Builders at Work, Brick House, 1946. Fry Art Gallery, purchased with assistance from the Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund 74

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


As was common for so many women at the time, Duffy was fully occupied with managing home and family, but she still found time to work with Peggy Angus on some wallpaper designs and also to paint what is perhaps the best portrait of Tirzah Ravilious in 1944. At the same time she was working in the community teaching art at the local Women’s Institute. Duffy and Michael had two children – Julian, now a noted publisher, and Anne, an artist. They remember their early life in this rural haven with a great deal of pleasure, although Anne describes some of the artists as being “rather frightening and not interested in the children themselves”. Indeed, many of the children were sent off to boarding school and then left very much to their own devices to explore the surrounding countryside during the holidays. Ravilious never returned. During his service as a war artist he joined an air-sea rescue mission to Iceland in September 1942, but the plane was lost with all on board. Bawden did eventually come back, having achieved the rank of honorary captain while serving as an official war artist in the Middle East, Africa and Italy, although his return to Brick House was delayed by the building work – recorded in a painting by John Aldridge – which had to be undertaken due to the damage caused by the only bomb to fall on Great Bardfield. Gradually life in the village reverted to some degree of normality, and it continued to provide the artists with plentiful subject matter for their work. Perhaps the best record of this time is to be found in Bawden’s Life in an English Village, published as a King Penguin in 1949, with a series of sixteen lithographs featuring many characters from the community. John Aldridge is shown drinking in the local pub, alongside his gardener, Fred Mizen, who also made elaborate corn dollies such as the “bell” hanging above the bar. In other scenes we see the vicar writing his sermon, a classroom in the village school, the interior of the butcher’s shop and Mr Suckling the tailor sitting cross-legged in his shop window. This thriving self-sufficient existence was to change dramatically over the next few decades. In 1950, when Bawden and others were busy on murals and other decorations for the 1951 Festival of Britain, they considered opening up their homes to sell art to the public. Bawden, Aldridge and Rothenstein subsequently held open studios during the festival which were so successful that the community as a whole embraced the idea and followed up with “Open House” fortnights in 1954, 1955 and 1958. These exhibitions attracted a huge number of visitors – at the last one Bawden claimed 9,000 people had been through his house alone – and put Great Bardfield firmly on the map, with both national and international press coverage. Thousands of people came to see the artworks and admire the colourful interiors of the artists’ homes and studios. An article in The Studio stated: “The group will clearly claim the serious attention of any future art historian, and Bardfield itself will certainly retain an importance akin to that of Shoreham in the annals of English painting,” while Tatler christened Great Bardfield “the Montmartre Village”. New arrivals continued to swell the ranks of artists and designers in the village. George Chapman came in 1950, Walter Hoyle in 1952 (he met Denise, later his wife, when she visited one of the Open House events), and in 1953 husband and wife artists Bernard Cheese and Sheila Robinson, noted textile artist Marianne Straub and Audrey Cruddas, a designer of theatre costumes, all moved into the area. Duffy Rothenstein was one of the first to leave the community, which she did when her marriage to Michael broke down. She moved first to London, in 1955, and then, having divorced Rothenstein in 1956, she married the designer Eric Ayers. In the late 1950s they V&A Magazine Summer 2015


bought an early Georgian house in Bloomsbury, where Duffy still lives. Here, she successfully resumed her painting career, as well as illustrating a number of books and working some of the time with her daughter Anne and sister Peggy on a stall in the Portobello Road selling artistic bric-a-brac. From the 1980s until a few years ago she exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, Cadogan Contemporary and the Fry Art Gallery. Gradually, as some of the other artists moved away or marriages ended, the relationship between the artists and the community changed, and nothing was ever quite to equal the incredible success the village had achieved in the 1950s with its open studios. After the death of his wife in 1970, Bawden left Brick House to move to a smaller home in Saffron Walden, just twelve miles away, where he was soon followed by Sheila Robinson, who had remained a devoted friend. He worked literally to the very last, and died in 1989, having had his art celebrated in a solo exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum earlier that year. The last remaining artist from the original group was John Aldridge, who died in 1983 in Great Bardfield. So what of Great Bardfield and the work created by the artists now? The beautiful village remains intact, with a vibrant community, a small selection of shops, a museum with a bookshop and tea room. As more people have become aware of the artists’ work, many are now visiting the village to see the source of so much of their inspiration. Bawden and Ravilious are, of course, the most famous; their works are avidly collected and the prices are increasing year on year. They are celebrated in numerous books and exhibitions, and the Ravilious show at Dulwich Picture Gallery, which is on until 31 August, has proved to be immensely popular. Interest in the other Bardfield artists is growing and they are gradually gaining the recognition they deserve. Their work can been seen in many collections including the V&A’s, but most accessibly in the Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden, which has specialised in collecting work by the artists of north-east Essex. Later this year Pallant House in Chichester will host an exhibition devoted to Kenneth Rowntree. Of the second generation associated with the area, Richard Bawden (Edward’s son) and Chloë Cheese (daughter of Bernard Cheese and Sheila Robinson) are themselves respected artists and printmakers. More recently, a young Grayson Cousins lived in a caravan in Great Bardfield while his mother and step-father were building a house. He was known locally as the newspaper boy, but is now familiar to the wider world as the artist Grayson Perry. From that original community, only two of the earliest members are still alive – the artist and potter Denise Hoyle, and Duffy Ayers, who will be celebrating her centenary this September. Duffy lives surrounded by her family and many mementoes and memories of a life well spent. Her recipe for longevity? Simply: “Engagement with life and a certain contentment.”

“B  a wden and R av i li ous ar e the most f amous, but t he other B ardfi el d ar ti sts ar e grad ually gai ni ng the r ec ogni ti on t hey deserve”

Mark Eastment is the former director of publishing at the V&A, and is currently researching the Oxford mural created by Edward Bawden for Blackwell’s Bookshop for a book to be published in 2016. Gill Saunders is senior curator of prints in the Word & Image Department at the V&A. She writes, lectures and broadcasts on twentieth-century and contemporary art Bawden, Ravilious and the Artists of Great Bardfield, edited by Malcolm Yorke and Gill Saunders, will be published by V&A Publishing in September 76

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

Clockwise from above: painting by Valerie Mitchell, date unknown, in Duffy Ayers’s home. Photograph by Julian Anderson © V&A Magazine/ Julian Anderson; George Chapman,

The Water Bowser, date unknown.

Fry Art Gallery; John Aldridge,

“Moss” wallpaper, c.1939, produced by Cole & Sons. Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Walter Hoyle, Little Sampford Church by Moonlight, date unknown. Fry Art Gallery


V&A Magazine Summer 2015



Below: Claudio Hils, Red Land, Blue Land, 2000

Perfect Likeness: Photography and Composition Russell Ferguson (ed) Prestel, £35 Staging Disorder Christopher Stewart and Dr Esther Teichmann (eds) Black Dog Publishing, £19.95 Reviewed by Ben Eastham “Everyone writes,” Russell Ferguson reminds us, “but we can distinguish between an invoice and a poem.” In Perfect Likeness: Photography and Composition, the curator and art historian traces a brief history of photography in an effort to identify the criteria by which we make analogous category judgments. What separates a Martin Parr from a holiday snapshot? A Jeff Wall interior from a promotional poster for new luxury flats? The answer, according to Ferguson, is discoverable in the arrangement of visual elements in the image itself: what we call its composition. It seems an uncontroversial premise: who would deny that an artist is better equipped to organise a picture than an amateur? Yet in the broader context of contemporary art this emphasis on the technical properties of the image – at the expense, for example, of concept – would seem unusually conservative. It’s an objection that Ferguson acknowledges, contending that the necessary dependence of photography on objective reality (a tie long since broken in painting) has led its practitioners to experiment with other means of imposing form into, and exercising control over, their images. Published to accompany an eponymous exhibition at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, Perfect Likeness presents a straightforwardly chronological V&A Magazine Summer 2015

account of the photograph as work of art. The chief benefit of this approach is to call into question any notion that the compositional principles of art photography have evolved along a single bloodline. Where Alfred Stieglitz considered that the creative part of the practice takes place in the darkroom, Edward Weston was adamant that “the finished print must be created in full before the film is exposed”. While these pioneers might have agreed that the photograph should aspire to the elevated status of painting, the succeeding generation of “street photographers” – Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, William Klein – used a variety of strategies, such as chance, spontaneity 79

“The images collected here present the viewer with real spaces that carry the scars of war without having in fact been subject to them”


Below: Sarah Pickering, Public Order, 2002–2005

and cropped frames, to undermine the “picturesque” qualities of the staged photograph. They sought by these means to represent the world as they saw it, to return the photograph to the realm of lived experience. Almost a century after Stieglitz met Weston in New York, Ferguson invites us to compare Thomas Demand’s photographs of purpose-built models with Florian Maier-Aichen’s digitally manipulated, out-of-time images. Both seem to pursue projects at odds with Cartier-Bresson’s celebrated description of the photograph as capturing the “decisive moment”. Yet rather than read this as evidence of a swing of the pendulum away from documentary photography,

we might recognise in their differences an echo of those that divided Stieglitz and Weston. Where Maier-Aichen, following Stieglitz, locates his practice primarily in post-production, so Demand, like Weston, insists on staging his work so that the image exists prior to its capture on film. It’s a neat example of how, for all that photography (as with any medium) develops as each generation reacts against the principles of its predecessors, there remain some intractable ground rules which one must either adopt or oppose. Photography is a conversation which takes place, as this engaging and well-illustrated book reminds us, across time. That the options available to photographers are infinitely more

complicated than between “realistic” documentary or “symbolic” art-forart’s-sake is further evidenced by the photographic series collected together in Staging Disorder, which combine the theatricality of Thomas Demand or Edward Weston with the (often compromised) fidelity to real life of photojournalism. The book presents seven photographic series made since the beginning of this century, each of which takes as its subject an environment constructed to acclimatise military personnel to the chaotic architectures of conflict. Claudio Hils’s Red Land, Blue Land shows us the mock Northern Irish streets, constructed on German soil, in which British soldiers learned the principles of urban warfare; Sarah Pickering’s Public Order features photographs of Denton, the fake town in which the Metropolitan Police rehearses its response to civil disorder. As the editors point out in their introduction, photographic representations of war traditionally take two forms: the directly documentary, capturing its disasters, or the allegorical. The images collected here combine the two, presenting the viewer with real spaces that carry the scars of war without having in fact been subject to them. These are premonitions or echoes of conflict, and the accompanying essays identify their problematic relationship to truth with a wider trend towards “post-illusion realism”. Their achievement is to remind us that the distinction between “picturemaking” and “picture-taking”, or between the poem and the invoice, is rarely as clearcut as we would like to believe. Ben Eastham is co-founder and editor of The White Review, and the co-author with Katya Tylevich of the forthcoming My Life as a Work of Art (Laurence King, 2016)


V&A Magazine Summer 2015

Below: removal of HR Hope-Pinker’s 1894 Queen Victoria statue on official recognition of Guyana as a republic, Georgetown, c.1970. Corbis

Sculpture Victorious: Art in an Age of Invention, 1837–1901 Martina Droth, Jason Edwards and Michael Hatt (eds) Yale University Press, £50 Reviewed by Charlotte Gere The scene was set for Sculpture Victorious when, at her accession in 1837, the young queen abandoned her baptismal name of Alexandrina. Her second name, Victoria (after her mother, Victoire, Duchess of Kent), was hastily chosen for her coronation and had no precedent in the royal family – but it paved the way for the triumphal iconography pursued here through the medium of sculpture. This book accompanies a touring exhibition, with its final destination Tate Britain, but it might be designed for understanding the V&A in all its sculptural glory. The essays treat sculpture in its broadest sense, ranging far beyond the confines of the show’s venues. From monumental figures in marble to bronze, plaster, Parian porcelain and ivory, electrotypes, lime wood carvings, silver testimonials, coins and medals, cameos, jewels and plaquettes – even glass, only stopping short of such printed novelties as embossing and anaglyptographs (the Victorians would have loved rapidprototyping such as 3D printing). The cover image of a fully caparisoned majolica elephant, made by Minton’s, the leading ceramic innovators, for the Paris International Exhibition of 1889, demonstrates the editors’ intention: to look at sculpture differently. In fact, the elephant – usually seen in the window of Thomas Goode, china merchant on London’s South Audley Street – was a latecomer compared with the V&A’s Della Robbia ware Ceramic Staircase and the refreshment room by Godfrey Sykes

and James Gamble – bold experiments in ceramic sculptural ornament. It is impossible to overstate the importance of sculpture to the Victorians, its ubiquity and diversity as well as the burden of meaning and symbolism that it carried. Buildings with any pretensions were ornamented with sculptural detail and emblematic figures. The partnership of art and industry, so diligently promoted in the 1840s, brought sophisticated methods of production, but also for reproducing sculptures to adorn the home. The Minton’s elephant embraces many of these themes – invention and manufacturing, legacy of Empire and the blurring of boundaries between fine and decorative art. It also raises a question: is it only size that differentiates a china ornament from a sculpture? Technology underpinned inventiveness and modernity. The resulting artefacts circulated through world’s fairs, seen here in prints and photographs of sculpture dominating exhibition halls and the Crystal Palace at Sydenham. Apart from the spectacular Cast Courts, the South Kensington Museum, as it then was, acted as a showcase for new V&A Magazine Summer 2015

construction methods and materials, and, along with the Ceramic Staircase, a riot of sculptural detail survives; just look at the north side of the quadrangle with its figures from science and art and Victoria/ Victorious distributing laurel crowns and backed by the 1851 Crystal Palace in the pediment. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were eager patrons of sculpture, their purchases publicised through the new illustrated art magazines. Following discussions of sculpture’s wide official remit (funerary monuments as well as triumphal queens), individual examples include Hiram Powers’s Greek Slave and its Parian porcelain reproductions; Raffaele Monti’s tour de force of illusionistic carving, the Veiled Vestal from Chatsworth; The Eglinton Trophy (sculptural silver by Edmund Cotterill for Garrard); the Earl of Winchester, one of the signatories of the Magna Carta, from the Palace of Westminster (life-size figure in electroplated zinc by Elkington); the mixed-media Dame Alice Owen by George Frampton (marble, alabaster, bronze, paint and gilding); and, as a final firework display, the rarely-shown but hugely popular A Royal Game by William Reynolds-Stephens. Elizabeth I and Philip of Spain, in electrotyped bronze and wood, play chess with pieces symbolising their struggle for supremacy. An Edwardian public, still well-versed in allegory, knew well what to make of it. The book is almost bewildering in its breadth, but it makes you look – at the city, the museum and perhaps around the house – and you may be left with the possibly erroneous idea that anything and everything can be sculpture. Charlotte Gere is a jewellery historian and specialist in design and applied arts of the nineteenth century 81


V&A Publishing

Shoes: Pleasure and Pain Helen Persson (ed) £25 Published in June Shoes from the V&A exhibition are presented with striking new photography in this significant look at footwear throughout history, focusing on psychology and social influences as much as design. Fetish, magic, Michael Jordan and the complex links between height and power are among the topics that are unpicked by experts from within and beyond fashion. Case studies include altitudinous Ottoman bath clogs and pointe shoes, alongside many examples of high glamour, exquisite craftsmanship and outlandish deviation from function. The shoe’s commercial and manufacturing history are explored in depth, while an illustrated glossary collates key terms in the world of footwear.


Edward Bawden’s London Peyton Skipwith and Brian Webb £14.99 Published in August This is the first paperback edition of a best-seller featuring images of London by the celebrated artist Edward Bawden, one of the many figures to have had a hand in London Transport’s iconic mid-twentiethcentury aesthetic. Ranging from his student paintings to major commissions such as the Morley College murals – undertaken with his contemporary Eric Ravilious for £1 a day – and work for the Festival of Britain, it also includes fine linocut series of the city’s monuments, markets and more.

London Couture 1923–1975: British Luxury Edwina Ehrman and Amy de la Haye (eds) £50 Published in September This account of London’s twentieth-century couture scene casts its eye on star designers, including Charles James and Norman Hartnell, and their exceptional clients – from the Queen of England to major Hollywood players. The publications that fuelled and communicated the “London Look” are also examined closely, as is the influence of the royals on style. The archives of great designers, historic fashion journals and museum collections are drawn on for a comprehensive overview that also encompasses the city’s wider dressmaking industry and London couture’s international appeal, with contributions from numerous authorities on luxury fashion of the era.

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

The Football’s Revolt LeWitt-Him £11.99 Published in August Many memorable and witty poster campaigns created for the government in wartime Britain came courtesy of the Polish-born designers Jan LeWitt and George Him. As the LeWitt-Him team, they moved to England in 1937, sponsored by the V&A. Children’s books were a major occupation for the duo, and this charming example, first published in the 1940s, offers an inventive story about a football that abandons a match at the crucial moment having been kicked a little too hard.

Membership Events Summer 2015

Booking Opens Tuesday 16 June Membership Office opening hours Monday – Friday, 09.30 – 17.30 020 7942 2277 / 2278 / 2281 All information correct at time of going to press Membership 020 7942 2271

From the Head of Friends James Beardsworth ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ is shaping up to be the most successful exhibition in the history of the V&A, and has certainly caught your imaginations – Members have been visiting in droves. The Members-only early morning weekend views are undoubtedly the best time to see the show, so whether visiting for the first time, or coming for a second (or third) occasion, be sure to book these exclusive slots online. They are planned for the duration of the exhibition. Please also remember that, as Members, you do not need to book when visiting during regular opening times. ‘Shoes: Pleasure and Pain’ (Members’ Preview Day, 12 June) will display more than 200 pairs of shoes from around the globe. The exhibition will continue the run of fascinating and successful shows in the V&A’s Fashion Gallery, reinforcing the Museum as the home of fashion in the UK. Come September, the V&A will once again be a central hub during the 2015 London Design Festival, and the autumn exhibition season will see the opening of ‘The Fabric of India’ (Members’ Preview Day, 2 October) and ‘Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection’ (Members’ Preview Day, 20 November). The Friends of the V&A, 2014/15 AGM is to be held on Tuesday 24 November. Please take a look at the newsletter for more information. If you are a new Member of the V&A and this is your first V&A Magazine, welcome. Be sure to review our excellent events programme over the following pages – and make sure you are signed up to receive up-to-date information via the Members’ E-newsletter. You can do so online, at the Members’ Desk, or by contacting us directly. Thank you to all Members for your support.

Left: RiRi, Sophia Webster, Spring Summer 2013. Below: James Beardsworth © Victoria and Albert Museum, London


V&A Magazine Summer 2015

Me m b e r s h ip e v e n t s

Evening Talks

Booking opens Tuesday 16 June 020 7942 2277 / 2278 / 2281

Heston Blumenthal

Monday 13 July 19.00 – 20.00 (talk); 20.00 – 20.45 (refreshments) Famous for his award-winning three Michelinstarred The Fat Duck in Berkshire, Heston Blumenthal OBE is considered to be one of the best chefs of his generation. Join him as he reflects on how, though self-taught, through his dedication to creativity, science and precision he has pushed the boundaries of a traditional kitchen and has pioneered multisensory cooking, flavour encapsulation and food pairing. £15 (including wine reception) Peter York: The Great Design Divide Monday 14 September 19.00 – 20.00 (talk); 20.00 – 20.45 (refreshments)

Keko Hainswheeler Friday 4 September 19.00 – 20.00 (talk); 20.00 – 20.45 (refreshments) Join multidisciplinary visual artist and creative consultant Keko Hainswheeler as he discusses his unconventional approach and variety of influences that have made him one of the most sought after collaborators/designers in the fashion and music industries. Keko works with artists, stylists and photographers including Lady Gaga, Skunk Anansie lead singer Skin, Nicola Formichetti, Mario Testino and is a creative consultant for international brands such as Diesel. £15 (including wine reception)

Are you an AA man or Chelsea Harbour one? Are you on for Corb’ or Colefax? In this talk, Peter York looks at the great ideological divide in the practice of interior design between the ‘architectural’ and the ‘decorator’ traditions, and the political and social prejudices that underlie it. Join Peter as he examines the outputs of the two schools and the markets for them. £15 (including wine reception)

Clockwise from top left: Heston Blumenthal. Photo: Alisa Connan; Peter York © Peter York; Vicky Featherstone. Photo: Johan Persson; Patrick Cox. Photo: Jonathan Glynn-Smith; Skin (Skunk Anansie) in Keko Hainswheeler jacket.

Patrick Cox Monday 7 September 19.00 – 20.00 (talk); 20.00 – 20.45 (refreshments) Patrick Cox, the Canadian-born shoe designer, is best known for his bold and ironic reinterpretations of British classics for men and women. Join him as he discusses his three decades of ground-breaking footwear designs. From loafers to luxury, Westwood to Galliano, Madonna to Michael Jackson, join Patrick for the highs and the lows of his roller-coaster ride through the thrilling London fashion scene of the 1980s and 1990s. £15 (including wine reception)

Photo: Francesco

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

Vicky Featherstone and the Royal Court Theatre Monday 28 September 19.00 – 20.00 (talk); 20.00 – 20.45 (refreshments) From Look Back in Anger in 1956 to this year’s ‘Revolution’ season, the Royal Court Theatre has a history of provoking debate and discussion. Join Vicky Featherstone, the theatre’s Artistic Director, as she discusses the story that has brought her to this iconic venue, in particular her unwavering belief in the primacy of the playwright and how Roald Dahl’s The Twits, staged this May, fits perfectly with the Royal Court spirit. £15 (including wine reception)


Booking opens Tuesday 16 June 020 7942 2277 / 2278 / 2281

M e m be r s h ip e v e nts

Evening Talks

Quentin Blake: Beyond the Page

Monday 5 October 19.00 – 20.00 (talk); 20.00 – 20.45 (refreshments) Quentin Blake’s unique reputation as a book illustrator is based on a series of collaborations with distinguished writers – most notably Roald Dahl – as well as on picture books of his own and his illustrations of classics for the Folio Society. However, in the past fifteen years he has also taken advantage of the capabilities of contemporary print technology to produce sequences of illustrations for public spaces such as museums and hospitals. In this talk he gives an account of these ventures and the problems and possibilities he’s encountered. £15 (including wine reception) A Century of Scents in 100 Perfumes with Odette Toilette Monday 12 October 19.00 – 20.00 (talk); 20.00 – 20.45 (refreshments) Join us for an evening with perfume expert Lizzie Ostrom, aka Odette Toilette. In her new book, A Century of Scents in 100 Perfumes, she tells the stories of 100 perfumes in all their decadent glory. Members will be taken on a journey across the twentieth century by way of a set of ten fragrances still loved, loathed and recognised by millions around the world today. We’ll be diving into the bottles, exploring the wild and wonderful ad campaigns, meeting the visionaries behind these fabulous fragrances and, most importantly, getting to know the people who wore them. Each of the chosen scents – whether a long-lost masterpiece, a guilty pleasure or an infamous success story – will be brought to glittering life. £15 (including wine reception)

Agi and Sam Friday 23 October 19.00 – 20.00 (talk); 20.00 – 20.45 (refreshments) Agi & Sam are London-based fashion design duo Agape Mdumulla and Sam Cotton, who met while working at Alexander McQueen, and founded their own label in 2010. Join them as they discuss their revolutionary approach to print design, which experiments with texture and colour, and stretches the boundaries of digital printing. This can be seen not only in their innovative collections, but also in the distinctive cover of the current V&A Membership pack, designed by the pair. £15 (including wine reception)

Clockwise from top left: Quentin Blake, Beyond the Page © Quentin Blake 2012 (Tate Publishing); Agi Mdumulla and Sam Cotton © Agi & Sam; Bawden, Ravilious and the Artists of Great Bardfield © V&A

Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London;

A Century of Scents in 100 Perfumes. Courtesy Penguin Random House


V&A Magazine Summer 2015

Bawden, Ravilious and the Artists of Great Bardfield Monday 26 October 19.00 – 20.00 (talk); 20.00 – 20.45 (refreshments) In 1931 the artists Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious moved to the Essex village of Great Bardfield. Over the years, encouraged by their example, other artists came to live in the village, forming a thriving artistic community that has continued to this day. Join authors Malcolm Yorke and V&A curator Gill Saunders for an illustrated talk about how the village and its neighbouring landscape nurtured a distinctive style of twentieth-century art, design and illustration. £15 (including wine reception)

Booking opens Tuesday 16 June 020 7942 2277 / 2278 / 2281 Clockwise from left: London skyline. Photo: Bruce Weber; Sibling AW15 Collection. Photo: Christopher Dadey; Rodney Cottier and Joanna Read. Courtesy LAMDA; Helen David. Courtesy Kalory

From Cullet to Shard: Glass in Architecture Monday 2 November 19.00 – 20.00 (talk); 20.00 – 20.45 (refreshments) The remarkable versatility of glass as an architectural material is the focus of this talk, exploring how it has transformed the design, decoration and appearance of buildings since the first glazing of windows in Roman times. Join David Park as he surveys developments and applications across two millennia, drawing on a wide range of examples from thirteenthcentury Gothic cathedral to sixteenth-century country house and the modern glass façades reshaping the skylines of London and beyond. £15 (including wine reception)

Sibling Friday 13 November 19.00 – 20.00 (talk) 20.00 – 20.45 (refreshments) Award winning fashion collective Sibling is a collaboration between Joe Bates, Sid Bryan and Cozette McCreery, and is known especially for its colourful and playful take on knitwear. Join them in conversation with fashion writer Charlie Porter as they discuss their approach and the influences that have led to their success, including collaborations with brands as varied as Swarovski, Fred Perry, and Barbie, and their recent participation in the V&A’s Fashion in Motion series of events. £15 (including wine reception)

LAMDA’s Rodney Cottier and Joanna Read in Conversation Monday 16 November 19.00 – 20.00 (talk); 20.00 – 20.45 (refreshments) LAMDA (London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art) has trained the world’s finest actors, directors, designers and technicians for more than 150 years. From rising stars Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Ruth Wilson (The Affair) and David Oyelowo (Selma) to household names David Suchet (Poirot) and Dame Harriet Walter DBE (Death of a Salesman, RSC), its alumni are recognised internationally as masters of their craft. Join Joanna Read (LAMDA Principal) and Rodney Cottier (Head of Drama School) as they share stories from their own careers and secrets of LAMDA’s ongoing success. £15 (including wine reception)

Helen David, Fashion Director: Harrods’ Fashion Vision Monday 9 November 19.00 – 20.00 (talk); 20.00 – 20.45 (refreshments)

Helen David, Fashion Director of Womenswear, Women’s Shoes, Fine Jewellery, Accessories and Childrenswear at Harrods, is considered to be one of the most influential women in fashion. Since joining Harrods in 2008, Helen has pioneered major store additions, from the launch of Shoe Heaven and Superbrands to the Luxury Accessories Rooms and Contemporary Fashion Lab redevelopment. Join Helen as she discusses her career and reveals future plans for the world’s most famous department store. £15 (including wine reception) V&A Magazine Summer 2015


M e m be r s h ip e v e nts

Me m b er s h i p ev en t s

Evening Talks

Daytime Talks

INVITATION STRICTLY PERSONAL: Fashion on Tour Monday 23 November 19.00 – 20.00 (talk); 20.00 – 20.45 (refreshments)

The Alice Look

Wednesday 2 September 15.00 – 16.00 Alice’s appearance has always been modified to keep up with fashion. But in recent years Lewis Carroll’s heroine has also emerged as a style icon in her own right. This richly illustrated talk traces Alice’s evolution from follower of fashion to trendsetter, with reference to printed editions and performances from around the world from the nineteenth century to the present day. Join curator Dr Kiera Vaclavik, Senior Lecturer, Queen Mary University of London, as she explores the V&A Museum of Childhood’s exhibition. £10 Please note this talk takes place at the V&A, South Kensington.

The fashion show invitation is the first opportunity a designer has to share his or her new style statement. Invites can be decorative, political, humorous or provocative and are often used to provide clues to the forthcoming catwalk presentation. Award-winning fashion writer Iain R Webb is a self-confessed hoarder and during his career has hung on to hundreds of examples. He will share some of his favourites, along with front-row stories from the ‘invitation-only’ world of the international collections in New York, London, Milan and Paris. £15 (including wine reception)

At home with the Soanes Tuesday 8 September 15.00 – 16.00 Join archivist Susan Palmer as she discusses At Home with the Soanes, her book published to coincide with the reopening of the private apartments of the Sir John Soane’s Museum. Susan paints a vivid picture of the Soanes’ house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, their family life with their two children and the below-stairs relationships with their servants. £10

Traditions of the Damascus Room Wednesday 16 September 15.30 – 16.30

Philip Treacy in Conversation

Monday 30 November 19.00 – 20.00 (talk); 20.00 – 20.45 (refreshments) Philip Treacy, one of the world’s most high-profile, influential and innovative hat designers, celebrates the publication of his eponymous book and discusses his career and creations with fashion editor Marion Hume. Known for working with a wide range of materials and mixing art and fashion, he will take the audience on a glamorous tour through his world, documenting how a hat can evoke the magic of life – all illustrated with photographs of his work by some of the most iconic image-makers of our time. £20 (including wine reception) 88

Clockwise from top left: Invitation Strictly Personal by Iain R Webb, published by Carleton Books; illustration by Sir John Tenniel for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, 1886 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London; At Home with the Soanes, published by Pimpernel Press; Ship Hat by Philip Treacy. Photo: Bruce Weber

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

Middle East cultural expert Diana Darke bought and restored an Ottoman courtyard house in Old Damascus in 2005, an experience which led her back into the academic world to complete an MA in Islamic art and architecture. Through the ’ajami room and painted ‘secret’ ceiling of her own house, she explores the traditions and designs of these Damascus rooms in celebration of the V&A display in the Islamic Middle East Gallery. £10

Booking opens Tuesday 16 June 020 7942 2277 / 2278 / 2281

Curator Talk: The Fabric of India Friday 2 October 15.00 – 16.00 Join curators Rosemary Crill and Divia Patel as they discuss their ‘The Fabric of India’ exhibition, which explores the country’s rich tradition of handmade textiles, with pieces on show dating from the third century to today’s cutting-edge fashion. This talk will illustrate the technical mastery and creativity at the heart of India’s textile production, with splendid examples created for courtly and religious use, as well as the incredible range of designs that made Indian textiles highly desirable around the world. £12

Clockwise from above: cotton appliqué wall hanging (detail), Gujarat, twentieth century © Victoria and Albert Museum, London; “Border” plate, designed by Robert Dawson, made by Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, Stoke-on-Trent, 2005 © Victoria and Albert Museum/WWRD United Kingdom Ltd/

Robert Dawson; diamond turban jewel made for the Maharaja of Nawanagar, 1907, remodelled in 1935, India, The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited 2014.

Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd

Blue and White: British Printed Ceramics Wednesday 14 October 15.30 – 16.30 The combination of cobalt blue decoration and a white ground is one of the most familiar and distinctive visual effects in ceramics. In Britain, blue-and-white decoration is most strongly associated with printed ceramics. Join V&A curator Rebecca Wallis to discover the enduring appeal and relevance of these objects as highlighted in the current display in Gallery 146. £10

Philip Webb, 1831–1915 Wednesday 18 November 15.30 – 16.30 Philip Webb, friend and colleague of William Morris, was the most significant architect of the English Arts and Crafts Movement. Marking the centenary of his death, this talk accompanies a display examining his influences and methods as he pioneered new ways of thinking about building design and preservation. Drawing on the V&A and RIBA’s unparalleled collections, curator Roisin Inglesby discusses Webb’s career as an architect and designer and his diverse projects and roles. £10

Curator Talk: Bejewelled Treasures: The Al-Thani Collection

Friday 20 November, 16.30 – 17.30

A Stitch in Time Friday 9 October 15.00 – 16.00

Join the curators of ‘Bejewelled Treasures’ for an introduction to this exhibition, which explores the broad themes of tradition and modernity in Indian jewellery through the display of spectacular objects drawn from a single collection. The talk will provide insights into the curators’ approach to the subject by highlighting specific objects from the exhibition, such as Mughal jades and a rare jewelled gold finial from the throne of Tipu Sultan, as well as pieces that demonstrate the strong influence of India on European jewellery design in the early twentieth century. £12

Join assistant curator Danielle Thom as she explores the history of needlework tools before the decline of home sewing in the twentieth century. As design objects in their own right, they reflected the fashions and technological innovations of their day. As personal possessions, they represented status and ownership for women in an age when ‘property’ was predominantly the preserve of men. £10

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


Booking opens Tuesday 16 June 020 7942 2277 / 2278 / 2281

M e m be r s h ip e v e nts

Tours and Visits

Clockwise from left: engraving of Sandycombe Lodge © WB Cooke for Thames Scenery; Irwin Crosthwait, Mondrian Dress, Yves Saint Laurent, 1965, watercolour © GRAY MCA; embroidery by Hand & Lock © Saoirse Crean Photography

turner’s house Monday 7 September 18.00 – 19.30 External Visit Sandycombe Lodge in Twickenham was built for JMW Turner just over 200 years ago. The great painter loved this part of the Thames and drew inspiration from the river landscape, but what makes this pretty house so important is that he designed it himself. Members will be given a tour of the magical building in its pre-conservation state to hear about its history and learn what can be done to save it. £22 (including refreshments)

What a Shoe Says! Wednesday 9 September Tour 1: 11.00 – 12.00 (tour); 12.00 – 12.30 (refreshments) Tour 2: 14.00 – 15.00 (tour); 15.00 – 15.30 (refreshments) V&A Guided Tour Join V&A Guide Pennie Mendes as she explores the representations of footwear in sculpture, stained glass, paintings and artefacts from medieval times to the nineteenth century. Who wore the long pointed shoe? Why did the chopine shoe cause such a stir? Who set the fashion for red heels? And what defines a slap sole shoe? Moving towards the modern day, Members will discover how industrialisation gave birth to massproduced footwear. £15 (including refreshments)


The Glories of Green Street: Upton Park Thursday 10 September Tour 1: 11.00 – 13.00 Wednesday 16 September Tour 2: 11.00 – 13.00 Wednesday 30 September Tour 3: 11.00 – 13.00 Walking Tour Join Blue Badge Guide Rachel Kolsky for a walking tour eastwards to Green Street, where you will explore the Asian shopping area of London with top-quality bangles, saris, foods and a brand new shopping mall. Nestling alongside are the Boleyn Ground, the Hammers’ current home before they move to the Olympic Stadium, memories of Trebor mints, the Carlton Cinema and the Dr Who Museum. An area full of surprises! £20

Hand & Lock

Monday 14 September, Tour 1: 11.00 – 12.00 Monday 21 September , Tour 2: 11.00 – 12.00 Monday 28 September, Tour 3: 11.00 – 12.00 External Visit Attention to detail is the mark of truly great couture, and no one understands this better than the embroidery experts at Hand & Lock. The 247-year-old company specialises in a host of varied embroidery techniques, including tambour beading, silk shading and the ancient tradition of goldwork. Hand & Lock’s expertise has been called upon by the royal family, the military and the likes of Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior. Please join us on a private tour of this fascinating business. £24 (including refreshments) V&A Magazine Summer 2015

St James the Less, Pimlico Tuesday 15 September Tour 1: 11.00 – 12.30 Tour 2: 14.00 – 15.30 External Visit Described by Nikolaus Pevsner as ‘one of the finest Gothic Revival churches anywhere’, George Edmund Street’s Grade I-listed St James the Less, Pimlico, was completed in 1861. It includes excellent glass, sculpture and a mosaic designed by GF Watts. John Betjeman campaigned against its closure, and the church is a prime example of the High Victorian taste for structural polychromy. Join art and architectural historian Ayla Lepine for a tour of this wonderful building. £20 (including refreshments)

An Evening of Fashion Illustration: Irwin ‘Bud’ Crosthwait Friday 18 September 18.30 – 20.00 External Visit To commemorate the life and works of one of fashion’s most prolific and fascinating illustrators of the late 1940s–1970s, Gray MCA will be holding an unprecedented exhibition of the artist’s work. Curators Connie and Ashley Gray will take Members on a guided tour of the key works with an introduction by Angela Landels, former Art Director of Harper’s Bazaar, who commissioned Crosthwait for the magazine. A ten per cent discount will be offered on any purchases made on the night. £15 (including wine reception)

Booking opens Tuesday 16 June 020 7942 2277 / 2278 / 2281 London Design Festival at the V&A Thursday 24 September 11:30 – 12:30 (tour); 12:30 – 13:00 (refreshments) V&A Guided Tour Join a curator-led tour of the London Design Festival at the V&A, taking in a host of inspiring installations by some of the world’s leading designers on display throughout the Museum. The V&A is the hub of the festival, a nine-day celebration of contemporary design and London as the creative capital of the world. £15 (including refreshments)

Temple Church Tuesday 29 September 14.00 – 15.30 External Visit Established in the twelfth century, the distinct round nave and Purbeck marble effigies at Temple Church recall its links to the crusading Knights Templar. Set within the secluded surrounds of Inner and Middle Temple, it now serves the ancient lawyers’ societies. Join architectural historian Lisa McIntyre from ChurchCare, the buildings division of the Church of England, for a tour of this remarkable church. £20 (including refreshments)

The Garrick Club Thursday 1 October 10.00 – 12.00 External Visit

Carlyle’s House: A Victorian Writers’ Shrine in Chelsea Tuesday 22 September , Tour 1: 11.00 – 12.30 Monday 19 October , Tour 2: 11.00 – 12.30 External Visit

Hidden in the quiet back streets of Chelsea is the home of Thomas Carlyle and his wife Jane. A twist of fate turned Carlyle into a star of the nineteenth-century literary world, and suddenly this was the place to be. When you pull the bell to enter you will follow in the footsteps of Dickens, Ruskin, Tennyson and many more. Members are invited for a tour of the house when it is closed to the public, where you will learn more of Carlyle’s remarkable story as you look around this authentic, evocative, very special place. £20

The Garrick Club was founded in 1831 and houses the largest and most significant collection of British theatrical works of art, with more than 1,000 paintings, drawings and pieces of sculpture on display. Artists represented in the collection include Johan Zoffany, Thomas Lawrence and John Everett Millais, while paintings of every British actor of note, from David Garrick to John Gielgud, hang on the walls. Please join NADFAS Lecturer in Art and Theatre History, Frances Hughes, for a private tour of this magnificent club. £25 (including refreshments)

Strawberry Hill House Monday 5 October Tour 1: 10.30 – 12.30 Monday 12 October Tour 2: 10.30 – 12.30 External Visit Award-winning Strawberry Hill House offers a truly theatrical experience. This ‘little Gothic castle’ was built in the eighteenth century by Horace Walpole, son of Sir Robert, Britain’s first Prime Minister. Members will enjoy the extraordinary interiors of Strawberry Hill as part of a magical journey exploring architecture, colour and the eccentricities of Walpole’s vivid imagination. £22 (including refreshments)

Clockwise from top left: interior of Carlyle’s House. Courtesy Carlyle’s House; Johan Zoffany, Thomas King as Touchstone in As You Like It, 1780 © The Garrick Club; Strawberry Hill House. Courtesy Strawberry Hill House

V&A Magazine Summer 2015


Booking opens Tuesday 16 June 020 7942 2277 / 2278 / 2281

M e m be r s h ip e v e nts

Tours and Visits Pearly Queens to Kingsley Hall: Bromley-by-Bow Tuesday 13 October Tour 1: 11.00 – 13.00 Tuesday 20 October Tour 2: 11.00 – 13.00 Tuesday 27 October Tour 3: 11.00 – 13.00 Walking Tour For those of you prepared to go a bit off the beaten track, this under-visited area of Bromley-by-Bow offers a wonderful variety of history and stories – suffragettes, almshouses and a royal hunting lodge. Blue Badge Guide Rachel Kolsky will take you on an interesting walking tour which ends with an exclusive visit to Kingsley Hall, known for its associations with Doris and Muriel Lester, Mahatma Gandhi, who lodged here during his visit to London in the 1930s, and RD Laing, the controversial psychologist. £20

Clothworkers’ Centre: Indian Textiles Thursday 29 October 14.30 – 16.00 External Visit Join us for a close-up view of Indian textiles similar to those on display in the exhibition ‘The Fabric of India’. Co-curator Rosemary Crill will show and discuss a range of textiles reflecting the variety and virtuosity of the pieces in the exhibition, including seventeenth-century trade embroidery, Kashmir shawls and woven silks. £15

The Brompton Oratory Thursday 15 October Tour 1: 14.00 – 16.00 Wednesday 21 October Tour 2: 14.00 – 16.00 External Visit

Beatrix Potter in the V&A archive Thursday 22 October Tour 1: 11.00 – 12.00 Tour 2: 14.00 – 15.00 External Visit

The Brompton Oratory, as it is popularly known, was built for The Congregation of The Oratory of St Philip Neri over four years from 1880. Its nave exceeds even that of St Paul’s Cathedral, making it the second largest Catholic church in London. The Oratory Fathers stipulated that it must be unashamedly Italianate in order to bring St Philip’s romanità to nineteenth-century London. Join the Oratory Cerimoniere, James Cross, on a tour of the building and the Baroque treasures of the sacristy. £18

The V&A holds the world’s largest collection of Beatrix Potter’s drawings, literary manuscripts and related material. During this visit to the V&A archive at Blythe House, Members will be introduced to objects in the collection – from her carefully observed studies of animals and plants to loosely drawn watercolour landscapes and the wellknown Peter Rabbit picture letter. £15

Aberdeen Art Gallery at the Fleming Collection: Northern Lights Monday 2 November 10.00 – 11.30 External Visit This autumn the Fleming Collection is exhibiting a selection of works from Aberdeen Art Gallery and Cowdray Hall, providing a rare opportunity to see them in London. Join us for a curator-guided tour of these important artworks, which range from a naively painted view of the city of Aberdeen by William Mosman to twentieth-century and contemporary British art and include, among many others, Joseph Farquharson’s Afterglow. £20 (including refreshments on arrival)

Fashion and Textile Museum: Liberty in Fashion

Wednesday 14 October , Tour 1: 10.00 – 11.30 Wednesday 11 November , Tour 2: 10.00 – 11.30 External Visit Liberty & Co has been at the cutting edge of design and the decorative arts since 1875. This exhibition explores Liberty’s impact on British fashion, from Orientalism and Aesthetic dress in the nineteenth century, through Art Nouveau and Art Deco in the early twentieth century, and the revival of these styles since the 1950s. The Liberty textile design studio takes centre stage, with a focus on fashion collaborations including Jean Muir, Cacharel and Yves Saint Laurent. Members will be given a private curator-led tour of this fascinating exhibition when it is not open to the public. £28 (including refreshments) 92

Clockwise from top: Brompton Oratory. Courtesy Brompton Oratory; William Dyce,Titian Preparing to make his First Essay in Colouring, 1856–1857. Courtesy

Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums Collections;

Art Nouveau fashion using “Constantia”, 1961, from Liberty and Co. in the Fifties and Sixties, published by Antique Collectors Club © Liberty Ltd

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

Booking opens Tuesday 16 June 020 7942 2277 / 2278 / 2281 Africans in Art Tuesday 3 November 11.00 – 12.00 (tour); 12.00 – 12.30 (refreshments) V&A Guided Tour

Conditions of Booking General Members can purchase as many tickets as they require (including for guests who do not need to be Members). Please note, however, that the Membership Office reserves the right to restrict the number of tickets available for selected events. Members of the Director’s Circle receive priority booking on all Membership Events.

The V&A collections include many representations of African people in a variety of media, ranging from painted portraits to prints and photographs. Join V&A Guide Margaret Raffin for a tour where you will discover images of black Africans from the Renaissance to the twentieth century. £15 (including refreshments)

The Medici Family Connections in the Renaissance Galleries Wednesday 4 November Tour 1: 14.00 – 15.00 (tour); 15.00 – 15.30 (refreshments) Wednesday 11 November Tour 2: 14.00 – 15.00 (tour); 15.00 – 15.30 (refreshments) V&A Guided Tour Using objects from the Museum’s collections, V&A Guide Sandy Hawkins will show how, during the fifteenth to early sixteenth century, Florence under four generations of the Medici family rose to prominence through patronage of the arts. This rise was greatly facilitated by works commissioned from local painters, sculptors and architects. Members will discover how these magnificent artworks are indebted to classical antiquity. £15 (including refreshments)

A Visit to Maharani: Textiles of India Tuesday 17 November 18.30 – 20.30 External Visit

Payment Please pay by credit or debit card over the telephone or online. Receipts will not be sent, unless specifically requested by telephone. Members booking online will receive email confirmation of their booking. Payment details sent by post will be processed, but not until after booking opens and allocation cannot be guaranteed.

An Evening with Tom Dixon

Thursday 19 November , 18.30 – 21.00 External Visit Tom Dixon OBE, internationally renowned British designer and creative director of his own eponymous brand, invites Members to his showroom at Portobello Dock. Join Tom as he discusses his career as a self-taught designer working in multiple disciplines, from contemporary lighting, furniture and accessories to high-profile projects including the restaurant at the Royal Academy in London, Jamie Oliver’s London restaurant, Barbecoa, and Shoreditch House. Most recently, Tom’s Design Research Studio completed its first ever hotel project, redesigning the iconic Thames-side Mondrian Sea Containers. Guests will receive a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne upon arrival and twenty per cent off all purchases made on the evening. £20 (including refreshments)

Allocation & Waiting Lists Event tickets are sold on a first come, first served basis. If payment confirmation is not received, your payment and booking have not been successful, in which case you will not have been charged. If an event has sold out, your name can be added to a waiting list by contacting the Membership Office. Event capacities are determined by the venues. Please do not attempt to attend an event without a booking. Cancellation Please note we do not offer refunds or credit vouchers. The Membership Office is not liable for unforeseen circumstances such as travel and weather disruption or personal reasons. The Friends of the V&A’s decision on this is final and all payments will go to supporting the Museum. The Membership Office reserves the right to cancel any event, in which case you will be fully refunded. Access The V&A aims to be fully accessible to all. Please help us to accommodate any specific individual needs by contacting the Membership Office in advance of attending. Any events held at the South Kensington V&A site are deemed fully accessible, subject to a fully operational lift service. Alterations & Speakers The Membership Office reserves the right to make alterations to the advertised programme without prior notice. The Friends of the V&A, as a body, is not responsible for the views or opinions expressed by individual speakers. Please note all end times are approximate. Ticket Prices Please note that all prices include VAT and no concessions are offered.

Join Sarah Mahaffy, owner of fashion and interiors shop Maharani, for a talk on working with leading textile designers in India. Members will be given the chance to see and admire clothing, shawls and fine vintage textiles that she personally sources in Gujarat (Ahmedabad and Kutch), Kashmir, the Punjab, Varanasi and Delhi. A ten per cent discount will be available on all purchases made on the evening. £20 (including refreshments)

Liability Please note that personal insurance for events away from the V&A is the responsibility of the individual. Data Protection The information you provide will be processed by the Membership Office and used solely to supply the goods and services ordered, and for billing, accounts and audit purposes. Information will not be passed on to third parties. Key to Members’ Events

Many Stairs Extensive Walking

Full Disabled Access

Top: the Tom Dixon Store © Peer Lindgreen. Right: Indian clothing and textiles at Maharani. Courtesy Maharani V&A Magazine Summer 2015


co lle c tion s e l e c t i o n

West meets East Louise Cooling introduces Mr Levett in Turkish Costume, a very rare chalk drawing by a Swiss painter of an English merchant This exquisite drawing by the Swiss artist Jean-Etienne Liotard (1702–1789) is a fragment of a study for one of his most admired oil paintings, Mr Levett and Miss Glavani in Turkish Costume. Acquired by the V&A in the nineteenth century, it depicts the English merchant Francis Levett in local Turkish dress. Known as Le peintre turc (the Turkish painter) owing to the long beard and exotic dress he adopted while in the region, the peripatetic Liotard was esteemed as a portraitist and admired as an innovative pastellist throughout the courts of Europe. This drawing is one of numerous studies of Constantinople’s European residents in Turkish costume made during his stay in the Ottoman Empire from 1738 to 1743. His early sojourn in Turkey had a lasting effect, and he was to revisit the drawings throughout his career. Only around 70 works are known to have survived from his time there and are difficult to trace, while chalk studies such as this one are particularly rare in UK collections, existing only through prints and counterproofs. Liotard trained as a miniaturist, and his skill at capturing a sitter’s features and the nuances of expression on a small scale is apparent here. The intricate renderings of the traditional Turkish chibouk (pipe) and tespih (prayer beads) are characteristic of his


almost archaeological attention to the details of life in the Near East, and contrast with the often fanciful exoticism of Orientalist art both before and since. In consequence, this is an important record of the interaction between the West and East in the mideighteenth century. The use of red and black chalk, also known as the deux crayons technique, reflects the influence of French artist Jean-Antoine Watteau, who reinvigorated chalk drawing in the eighteenth century and was much admired by Liotard. Like Watteau, he employed chalk to create texture – finer, lighter lines for the head, turban and fur trim of Levett’s robe, while darker areas were accentuated with thicker, more firmly applied chalk. A striking feature of this work is his use of cream-toned paper for highlights. Watteau was synonymous with the trois crayons technique (red and black with the addition of white), and Liotard’s contemporaries tended to favour white for highlights. Liotard was famed in his own lifetime, and his works remain highly sought after today. However, his celebrity in Britain has diminished, with the majority of his surviving pictures held in continental European and north American museums and private collections. This intimately descriptive drawing attests to his mastery of the deux crayons technique and unerring eye for detail. Louise Cooling is assistant curator of paintings in the Word & Image Department Below: Jean-Etienne Liotard, Mr Levett in Turkish Costume, c.1740 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

V&A Magazine — Issue 37  
V&A Magazine — Issue 37  

V&A Magazine, Issue 37, Summer 2015 Style, sex and psychology