Roisin Inglesby

Title: Assistant Curator of Designs
Department: Word and Image department

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Book Cases

As every bibliophile knows, the main problem with books is how quickly they take up space.  It starts off harmlessly enough, and then before you know it a casual second-hand buying habit  quickly escalates into an in-house version of Matej Krén’s book installation art, in which books start to become the buildings they inhabit.  One […]

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What’s A Nice Guy Like You Doing in A Museum Like This?

The title of today’s post comes from a conference discussion with the textile artist Elaine Reichek, who I saw speaking recently at a two day event devoted to the ‘Politics of Cloth‘.  Reichek uses visual and textual quotations from self-consciously traditional sources to make her art, and was talking about the odd juxtaposition of ancient […]

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Spot the Dog

I never though I would spend a morning running around the Museum looking for a dog, but it transpires that you can never quite predict the day’s task when it comes to exhibition design. In this particular battle of wits I had youth and speed on my side since the dog is almost 300 years […]

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CopyKent: Designers, Engravers and Candlestick Makers

This morning a very nice group of jewellery design students came to look at some of the many jewellery designs in the V&A’s collection. Inspiring the creative industries has always been one of the Museum’s raisons d’être, and it was great to see contemporary designers getting excited about 19th century work, sketching and taking photos, […]

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A Battle of Words

Some of the most significant power struggles in an exhibition surround label writing. These struggles are not, I hasten to add, between members of staff– we’re yet to engage in fisticuffs over ambiguously placed commas. Rather, the competition is between different types of information, and who, or what, should have precedence. Although (or perhaps because) […]

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Jewellery Design

Since Pearls are having a bit of a ‘moment’, it seemed a good time to search through the Designs collection for some interesting examples of jewellery design across the ages. There are about 3000 designs for jewellery in the Museum’s collection, and we’re particularly strong on nineteenth and early twentieth century examples. As the ‘Pearls’ […]

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Searching for the Perfect Match: A trip to Houghton Hall

Both the greatest opportunities and the greatest challenges that the William Kent exhibition presents are in recreating within a museum setting a sense of Kent’s designs for grand and influential spaces. Unlike many of his predecessors, Kent did not just devise buildings, or only paint ceilings, or exclusively design furniture, or solely landscape gardens; instead, […]

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If Walls had Ears (and Chairs had Mouths)

I don’t know about you, but I was very relieved to read that Dick van Dyke escaped unscathed from the jaws of death last week. Having spent my childhood learning about Women’s Lib from Mary Poppins and my student years studying the complexities of the American healthcare system by way of Diagnosis Murder, I’m very […]

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A Staycation in Chiswick

Last weekend I took something of a busman’s holiday and trundled along the District line to Chiswick House. Chiswick brings together two important figures in William Kent’s life: Lord Burlington, Kent’s long-time patron and friend; and Andrea Palladio, the sixteenth-century Venetian architect. As I mentioned last time, Burlington and Kent met in Italy, where they […]

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Theoretical Unmentionables: A Matter of Taste

Academic theory, as someone* once said, is very much like underwear: it provides essential structural support at all times but should remain unseen, apart from the occasional flash, revealed judiciously for maximum effect. Although they’re usually kept discreetly tucked away in exhibitions, all curators select and display objects based on their theoretical assumptions. Sometimes these […]

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