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It's not surprising that when a fashion designer sits down to draw, the emphasis is usually on the clothing. Flip through a couturier's sketchbook and you're likely to find a series of interchangeable, blandly beautiful women or men, dressed up and maybe given new haircuts. These examples from the V&A's collection of 1940s sketches by the British fashion designer Marjorie Field make the point pretty well. Though the renderings are wonderful, they remind me of a child dressing up a paper doll in different outfits. The same attitude is evident in this terrific 17th century miniature, which allows you to …

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Stained Glass from the Chapel of the Holy Blood: Part Two

By Stuart Frost In October last year I wrote about conservation work that had begun on a stained glass panel made around 1496 for the Chapel of the Holy Blood in Bruges, Belgium. The photograph that heads this page shows the glass after completion of the work by the conservators. If you contrast this image with […]

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Week 7 | The Building Works: 22.02.10

“The guy is over sixty yet he announced he was stepping down as an MP at the next election via twitter.” Old King Cole Remember we told you about the inspiring cityscape we can see out of our studio windows…? You know, the view we have over Exhibition Road and the yonder snow-covered rooftop of the Science Museum. Well, now it’s all gone! The windows through which we spotted the prancing builders last week have been blocked up. It might be an act of revenge to teach us a lesson for the scurrilous remarks we made about builders in our …

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A Room of One’s Own

Over the last two years I have had the pleasure of working with so many extraordinary artists and makers.Many have welcomed me into their homes and studios, sharing thoughts and ideas – their hospitality and generosity have added an unexpected dimension to the exhibition, which goes beyond professional courtesy.I had visited Jo Budd in her studio several times and was immediately drawn to the sense of peace and tranquillity in her workspace. It was not only a privilege to be invited into her home and studio but was also a joy

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Absent Minded 2: Caroline Slotte

After I put up the last post on the subject of erasure a little while back, the artist Caroline Slotte got in touch to show me this new piece of hers, entitled Going Blank Again. I 've known Slotte's work for a while and am a big fan.She uses only one technique:the removal of material from old china, usually plates printed with a 'Willow' pattern or other Chinese landscape design. The V&Ahas one of her works (on view in the new ceramics galleries), from a series in which she cuts all the way through her plates and then stacks them. …

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The Big Head

Wow, what a day! It’s half term week and South Kensington is awash with families and small children, most of them in the ceramic studio at the V&A. What a great week to host my swan-song public event, the group modelling of ‘The Big Head’. 131 visitors throughout the day contributed their enthusiasm, imagination and modelling skills to a weird and wonderful portrait head, christened ‘Albert’ by one of the children. It’s always a joy to see young children revelling in the direct tactile experience of handling wet clay, and some of today’s helpers were barely out of their push-chairs. …

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Week 6 | School Report: 15.02.10

“The Government paid a visit to the studio on Tuesday morning…” Morning Bell The V&A has been over-run by school children hopped up on half-term holiday fever. At first, we assumed the long lines of mini-human-caterpillars blocking the corridors and taking over the toilets had taken a wrong turn in the tunnel on their way to the dinosaur museum. We only keep a few old clothes and some even older earthenware on the east side of Exhibition Road. But to our surprise, their little faces lit up at the sight of the 15th century blue and white Chinese porcelain exhibited …

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From the Horse’s Mouth

Our Bookings Office (who has the patience of a saint) has confirmed that tickets for individuals are indeed now available to book by phone or online. Go to on +44 (0)20 7942 2211. Meanwhile the contractors are busy building the exhibition – the entire space is a hard hat only zone (the testosterone is palpable), the installation schedule is being drawn up, couriers are being booked in, the team of conservators are on hand and I've stocked the cupboards with all sorts of nutritious snacks to see us through the 12 hour days (who am I kidding – it …

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