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Making a ‘Constable’

Applying the red-brown oil ground. You can already see how the paper is absorbing the oil where there is no sizing.

  This week I’ve been working with Clare, the Senior Paintings Conservator, to make some Constable-style pasteboards (sheets of paper glued together) for a display to go in the Paintings gallery. After several weeks of reading up on it (for example in the essays referenced here), looking at examples of Constable’s works on paper, and […]

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‘A Stitch in Time: Home Sewing Before 1900’

Arm and Platform sewing machine by Edward Ward, c.1875-80. M.44-1991

  A stitch in time, may save nine. First recorded in Thomas Fuller’s Gnomologia, Adages and Proverbs (1732)   The meaning of the ‘stitch in time’ proverb is well known: if you address a small problem with a little work, you prevent it from becoming a big problem requiring a lot of work. It’s probably no […]

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V&A Illustration Awards 2015 Shortlist

villa collage

  With just over two weeks to go before the winners are announced, the judges of the 2015 V&A Illustration Awards have whittled down the entries from nearly a thousand to just three in each category. On the 18th of May we’ll find out the winners of the awards for:

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Japanese meisen dyeing

Meisen kimono from the V&A collection

On a recent visit to Japan I had the opportunity to visit Isesaki, a town in Gunma Prefecture about 95km north-west of Tokyo that is known for the production of a type of fabric called meisen. The development of meisen in the early decades of the twentieth century brought modern kimono fashions within the reach […]

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Japanese stencil dyeing

Making the rice paste

I travelled to Tokyo recently to attend a symposium hosted by Bunka Gakuen, one of the world’s leading fashion colleges. As well as days of formal events, the organisers had kindly arranged various visits for the participants, one of which was to a dyeing workshop in Hachiōji. This town is about 40 kilometres west of […]

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May Day, Mayday!

May Day, Hyde Park By Underground

For most of us May Day (not to be confused with the international distress call mayday) just means a bank holiday and a chance to recharge our batteries. Perhaps an opportunity to visit a museum? Or maybe surf the net for interesting and informative blogs?. . . The earliest May Day celebrations date back to pre-Christian times. In […]

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On the travels of our 18th-century gold boxes

Poster Close-Up and Personal

Back in September 2014, I wrote a post about the closure of the Gilbert Galleries at the V&A, and promised that I would keep you updated about our various projects to make the collection as accessible as possible to the public. So if you want to see some of the Gilbert Collection’s most precious and beautiful gold boxes, […]

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An Imperial Playhouse: The Gilbert Collection’s Russian micromosaic jewel casket re-identified


On 4 March 2015 I gave an illustrated lunch-time talk at the V&A on Russian Country Houses which was well received and well attended. Afterwards, Katrina Warne, a regular visitor to Russia, identified the micromosaic scene on the Gilbert Collection jewel casket which I had illustrated as a view of the Gothic Priory at Gatchina. […]

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Reflection on the Exceptional Contribution to the World of Art and Design Made by Moira Gemmill

Moira Gemmill,

As we reflect on the exceptional contribution made by Moira Gemmill, the V&A’s former Design Director who died recently, to the V&A and the world of art and design more broadly, we wanted to share the speech made by V&A Chairman Sir Paul Ruddock at her leaving event in January 2015. “It is always hard […]

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Moira Gemmill

Moira Gemmill

“We are devastated to hear of the tragic death of our much-loved and respected colleague of many years, Moira Gemmill. During her 13-year career at the V&A as the Director of Design before leaving for the Royal Collection Trust in January this year, she made an extraordinary impact in transforming the Museum’s galleries and facilities […]

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