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This is it! I've given up work -retired from the rat race and am about to start on a 10 year adventure, doing all those things I've been meaning to do but never had the time to do them. I've offloaded my responsibilities and it is now my time. So follow my adventures and see whether I actually manage anything!

Monday, 4 January 2016

Victoria and Albert Museum

January's weather is not always conducive to being outdoors so I took the opportunity to be out and about visiting exhibitions and museums. This weekend I visited the V and A Museum to see an exhibition entitled ' Fabrics of India'. I have visited India on a couple of occasions and so was particularly interested in seeing this exhibition. Its focus was on the making of fabric from natural materials; dyeing the  fabric; then decorating the fabric from block printing to elaborate embroidery. No photography was allowed so you'll just have to take my word for it being well worth seeing. here are a few examples of the type of things I saw in the exhibition.

This is part of a bed cover made in Gujarat in 1725-50. It is linen embroidered(by hand) with silk thread in a chain stitch. This has been made for the export market.

This is printed fabric from South East India c.1660

Part of an 18th cent embroidered floor covering.

Afterwards I walked through a few of the many, many rooms that make up the museum and chose some of my favourite exhibits to share with you.

There are many different collections in the museum containing a total of 2.75 million objects, of which 60,000 are on display in the museum at any one time. This marble statue of Samson slaying a Phillistine is by Giambologna and is the only one to have left Italy. It came to London in 1623 and soon became the most famous Italian sculpture in England.

The huge Cast Courts which display reproductions of medieval and Renaissance Europe.

This figure is from Ancient China and dates back to 1200. Originally it was painted in bright colours but during the Ming dynasty, the Guanyin was repainted to look like guilded bronze.

From Egypt, this glass cup was made sometime between 1000-1200

There is always the discussion about whether we should hold treasures in our Museums from other countries but knowing how much destruction is happening in the Middle East in the current climate I was pleased to see this item from Hama in Syria. It is a marble ablutions fountain which provided clean water so that the faithful can wash before prayer.

This tiled panel is also from Syria Dated 1700-50

Tipoo's Tiger is a life sized tiger eating a European. Inside the tiger is a mechanical organ which replicates the growls of the tiger and the cries of the victim! It came to the V and A in 1879 when the Indian Museum's collection was split up.

The Museum owns a number of clothing collections from these dresses of the 60s and 70s

to this very impractical court dress of the 1750s

I desperately tried to get a decent photo of this but the lighting wasn't working in the cabinet and the flash just created reflections so this was the best I could manage. This was given to Sir Francis Drake by Elizabeth I possibly in honour of his defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. A portrait of him in 1591 shows him wearing the jewel.

This enormous bed is possibly the best known object in the museum. It measures over 3 metres in width and is said to accommodate four couples. It is thought it was made as a tourist attraction for an inn in Ware. Shakespeare mentioned it in 1601 in his play 'Twelfth Night' as the 'bed at Ware'.

The Museum also houses more modern objects in a gallery entitled Rapid Response Collecting. The items in this gallery are here because they represents important moments in design or create newsworthy discussions about how we live today.

This is one of hundreds of tiles made to cover the facade of 'A house for Essex' designed by the artist Grayson Perry. The house opened in May 2015 and is dedicated to a fictional character called Julie and tells her life story through decoration and artworks.

This is the life-sized house built in Essex. It is only available for hire and as yet not available for the public to have a look round.

This is a gun created with a 3D printer. Designed by Cody Wilson, a Texan law student, to defend the right of US citizens to own a gun. It created much debate and the design for the gun was downloaded 100.000 times before he was ordered by the government to remove the designs from his website.

In the jewellery room is this locket, a gift from Queen Elizabeth I to her Vice Chamberlain Sir Thomas Heneage. The front shows the Queen whilst on the back is a boat sailing peacefully on stormy seas. These signs of favours were rich with Tudor imagery. It is made from gold with enamel, encrusted with diamonds and rubies.

This Nautilus shell (1621-40) is beautifully engraved with spiders and insects. My photo does not do justice to the beauty of this item.

The Gloucester Candlestick is another precious Museum masterpiece of medieval art.
Cast in three sections from a variety of precious metals, possibly melted down from old coins.  The dense decoration depicting men and monsters in combat is said to illustrate the struggle between good and evil.

The luck of Edenhall
This Syrian glass is one of the most famous exhibits in the Museum. Its pristine condition is rare for an item that dates back to 1350.

It is thought that the goblet was a souvenir from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It belonged to the Musgrave family of Edenhall in Cumbria. It is said to have belonged to the fairies. When disturbed they fled and left it behind crying 'If this cup should break or fall, farewell the luck of Edenhall.'


  1. What a fascinating collection to share with us Marie. My over riding feeling seeing a couple of Syrian exhibits is "thank goodness they are here and not subject to wanton vandalism there". The Edenhall piece is especially beautiful.

  2. When the weather is nasty, museums are a great way to spend the time. This looks like a great one to visit!

  3. Such an interesting assortment of objects. The stories that go with them are always so fascinating.

    And, yes when granddaughter comes to visit our activities revolve around her interests and schedule for sure!

  4. I only popped in briefly last year but have this on my list for this year. So many wonderful items, it makes you think about what else is hidden away. Thanks so much for this tour, I really enjoyed it xx

  5. From great beauty to the macabre. It is a fine collection. The Nautilus shell is my favourite.

  6. So many beautiful things to see - your photos are great. The Indian fabrics would have been great to see - very beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Oh, I do agree with Mich, so many great things to see indeed!! I did enjoy your photos so much!! They are beautiful!! And, thank you for sharing!! I hope you have a great new week and new year!! Enjoy!!

  8. I can see how you can spend many hours (or days) at the V and A. Worth it just for Tipoos Tiger I'm sure.

  9. I can see how you can spend many hours (or days) at the V and A. Worth it just for Tipoos Tiger I'm sure.

  10. A wonderful tour, thanks you. A body could spend a lot of time exploring in here I imagine.


  11. Another grand tour ~ only inside ~ wonderful photography and so intriguing.

    Wishing you a happy week ~ ^_^

  12. Amazing collection! That life size tiger eating the European is probably the most bizarre, and the Syrian cup the most beautiful. Thanks for the wonderful tour! :-)

  13. What brilliant photos. We went to the V&A earlier this year but only got to look around for an hour before being evacuated. I would love to see the clothing exhibit. Next London visit I will make it a priority. Just hope the exhibit is still there. :)

  14. I was never inside the museum ! Looks very interesting. The bed is just suitable for me ! and the vintage dresses I used to wear, never thought at that time that they would be exposed in museums ! Indian fabrics are very beautiful !

  15. I need to go there someday. Usually whenever I went to London at least one museum (paid or not) would be visited, but alas, no more trips so no more visits.

    Love the exhibits you have shown. That man eating tiger is quite weird and I just love the court dress from 1750, impractical but beautiful and the bed from Ware is fantastic as well. Might be difficult to get the bedding for it though!

  16. Hello, what a lovely tour of the museum. It is a great way to spend time on a cold day. The Indian fabrics are beautiful. Your photos and the exhibits are wonderful. Thanks for sharing, have a happy week!

  17. I like the V&A museum very much, have been there too, there is so much to see.

  18. Loved the tour ... You are an outstanding guide. That gun gave me the cold shivers... Among too many crappy things happening over here , this thing about everybody and her grandmother carrying is absolutely freaking me out.m I wish we could grow out of our frontier mentality.

  19. ok this is definitely somewhere I would visit, I just love history!

  20. Thank you for this tour. I love museums and this one I had to visit next time. So many interesting items.

  21. So many interesting things! The tiger and its victim, complete with growls and screams, is just amazing.

  22. would have loved to see the Liberty exhibit!


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