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If you build it, will they shop?

Last week Itook my students from the V&A/Royal College of Art course in the History of Design to Westfield Shopping Centre, the mega-mall that was finished in Shepherd's Bush in west London last year. We were toured by the head project architect, Patrick Vantomme, as well as Paul Sutliff, the director of retail designers Callison Europe. Paul was an architect for Bluewater Shopping Centre, another fixture on the London shopping scene. I'm not sure what you think about shopping malls – come to think of it, I'm not sure what Ithink of shopping malls. But there's no doubt they are …

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Can Objects Speak?

Any unexplained phenomenon passes through three stages before the reality of it is accepted. During the first stage, it is considered laughable. During the second stage, it is adamantly opposed. Finally, during the third stage, it is accepted as self-evident. – Arthur Schopenhauer

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Playing Cards Read By Psychic

This pack of cards (only four left) were one of the items read by Avril during the first psychic workshop we conducted. She had never seen or touched them before. Taking one of the cards in between her palms, here is what she said: – they are masculine cards. – there's a German influence. – I see a large door with a wooden table, and a large mirror hanging. – I feel like I can go under the building and into a tunnelled area leading into a kitchen or serving area, through to a dining room/sitting room. – there is …

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The Robert H Smith Renaissance Sculpture Programme

By Stuart Frost A  number of events have taken place at the V&A recently as part of the Robert H.Smith Renaissance Sculpture Programme, a ten-year programme of events generously funded by Mr Smith. The programme includes conferences, seminars, publications and two demonstrations of sculpture techniques a year. The V&A holds the national collection of sculpture, including […]

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Quilts Exhibition 2010

In March 2010 the V&A will present a major exhibition which will showcase over 300 years of British patchwork and quilting.For the first time the museum's collection of extraordinary quilts and coverlets will be displayed together with examples from some of the country's finest regional museums. Creating a major exhibition is a bit like embarking on parenthood. The responsibilities are enormous andeveryone has an opinion. Have you thought about doing this, including that, why aren’t you tackling this issue, will it really have a audience? The awful 2.00 amperiods of restless wakefulness, fretting aboutthe enormity of the task ahead.Thesudden, unutterable …

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Hair

Hair is fascinating stuff – it doesn't really rot so it keeps for a long time and it contains a certain amount of a person's DNA. I didn't know this, but during the Victorian ages, a lot of mourning jewellery was made that contained the hair of the deceased. Here's an example: Object: Hair-work Brooch and box Date: ca. 1842 Techniques: Brooch – human hair and gold / Box – card and engraving Artist: Forrer, A. Location: England "Death was highly visible in Victorian culture. It was a time for communal feeling, studied response and ritual, with people encouraged to …

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Kaftan of murdered Prince?

This was one of the objects that I'd had my eye on, early in the residency, for the psychic workshop. Unfortunately, it's an item that's on display and therefore couldn't be used for obvious reasons. However, it doesn't detract from the fact that it would've been interesting to see what Avril, the psychic with whom I'm working, could've read from it. Here are the quick details: Object: Kaftan Date: 1590 Techniques: Woven silk, weft made by silk and gilt metal thread, silk warp; lampas weave with satin ground and weft-faced twill pattern. "Kaftans like this one were worn by Ottoman …

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Inspiration comes in many guises

With just over a month left to go before the residency ends and I head back to Hong Kong, I thought I’d drop in some of the things that have inspired me, expanded my thinking, or that I simply find interesting. From now on, you may just get snippets from me, since I’m trying to juggle all sorts of things, from workshops to moving (out of the studio that is) to more reading to conceptualising to designing (my collaboration with Lilia which I’ll have to elaborate on later….). Anyway, one of the topics I’ve been reading on and researching is …

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Prick up your ears

Before the age of photocopiers and scanners, how did you make a copy of an image? In a sense, you didn't – prior to photography there was no means to make an exact replica of a drawing. This doesn't mean there wasn't a lot of copying done, though, and many techniques were developed to improve on the results you could get by replicating an image freehand. Tracing through a translucent sheet is one obvious example; another is the technique of pricking. This is as simple as it sounds:you take a pin – which, by the way, was a staggeringly common …

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A Mini-Museum at the Royal Geographical Society

At one end of the Pavilion exhibition space of the Royal Geographical Society, I created a mini-museum based on experiences of looking into the South Asian Textile Collection at the V&A: a small display which explored the activities of collection and display in the colonial nineteenth century. As an installation it faced the pallets and carrier bags (see the May post for images) which I had used to evoke the contemporary passage of goods across the continents from South Asia to British retail outlets.

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