I could easily spend days in the V&A Museum. Where else combines galleries full of stained glass windows, ironmongery, ancient busts, weddings dresses, modern art and a whole floor of ceramics that you can wander the fascinating halls for free? The V&A is the world’s largest decorative arts and design museum, covering “12.5 acres (51,000 m2) and 145 galleries. Its collection spans 5,000 years of art, from ancient times to the present day, from all over the world”.
Just a stone’s throw from South Kensington tube station, every single person I know loves a different exhibit within the walls. From the permanent to the temporary, each new turn in the corridor uncovers a new, beautifully staged exhibit of curios. So, when invited to one of the V&A Museum Late Nights by the lovely Kensington Hotel team (where we popped in for a pre-viewing aperitif and caught up with a few lovely ladies) when the halls would be free of half-term families, Amanda and I almost snapped their hands off. Figuratively of course.
|The Kensington Hotel bar – opulent and beautiful|
We were invited to view four of their current special exhibitions; Disobedient objects (interesting artworks but that night didn’t hold our attention), Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 (an exhibit I’ve meant to check out for months), a beautiful collection of Constable landscapes and a thrilling photography collection of Horst images.
I’ve never explored a museum at night, and found it both slightly unsettling and stunning. There’s a touch of feeling that Ben Stiller might burst out of side corridor with a tribe of animated figures, but also a lovely, still atmosphere with which to peruse, reflect and enjoy the variety of curios.
The Wedding Dress 1775-2014 exhibit was quietly beautiful. It conjured memories of my own big day, rustling through dressmakers fittings rooms, and every celebrity spread I’ve leafed through in a glossy mag. Dita Von Teese’s dress was breathtaking (as was the size of her teeny waist), Kate Moss’s dress was interesting and raised the question of ‘just what does a supermodel who has worn every kind of dress wear for her wedding?’ and stirred memories of the recent royal wedding.
With dresses spanning the ages, it’s an easily perused spiral of cases encasing frothy confections of dressmaking wonder. I especially loved the fashion collection through the ages surrounding the temporary exhibit.
Trotting through the corridors, we made our way to the Horst photography collection (via a small section of my absolute favorite, the stained glass gallery). Going into the exhibition un-initiated, the portraits were a wonder to behold. Working with incredible models, his fashion portraiture was more than just photographing beautiful people wearing clothes, they were studies in chiaroscuro, colour and texture. Incredibly inspiring, he was a man at the very top of his game.
What I especially enjoyed was the attention paid to the exhibit walls themselves; each new room was a wonder in lighting, pattern and acted as a perfect canvas for the items on display. (This is a particular pet joy of mine – in fact I ran out of camera battery photographing the walls and floors on my first visit to the Louvre. You can take the girl out of the (partially completed) architecture degree, but you can’t always limit the architecture degree had on the girl…)
Oh V&A, you are absolutely beautiful as always – and an utterly spellbindingly perfect way to spend an autumnal evening.