Designing William Kent

Designing William Kent is a behind-the-scenes look at the process of delivering a major exhibition. These posts will focus on the many different aspects of curating and designing a show, as well as highlighting links between the exhibition and Kent’s work elsewhere in the country. 

William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain is the result of a major research collaboration between the V&A and the Bard Graduate Center.
William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain is open at the V&A, 22 March – 13 July 2014.

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Lord Burlington’s Speech

Kent’s success depended hugely on personal relationships. The most important and enduring of these was with Richard Boyle, Lord Burlington, who was his friend, patron and artistic collaborator for over 30 years. I’m sure that 300 years after they first met, Kent would be flattered to think that his name is still tied to Burlington’s, […]

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What’s It All About?

Under normal circumstances I’d have been only too happy to celebrate the Budget with an infinitesimally cheaper pint and bargain game of bingo,  but Wednesday was also an important day in the life of another lover of alcoholic beverages and popular entertainment. That morning ‘William Kent’ was unveiled to the press, followed by the evening’s […]

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The Exhibition Fairies

I probably shouldn’t admit to this, but the curators of William Kent have a lot of extra help when it comes to getting the exhibition up and running. These helpers are industrious, elusive, and a little bit shy (you won’t see their names in the exhibition’s credits) and have such a lightness of touch that […]

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Jumping on the Bandwagon

If any proof were needed about the evocative power of music then I’d be hard pressed to think of a better example than Handel’s Zadok the Priest. Is it possible to hear the swell of the music, the rousing trumpets and the powerful harmony of  voices rising in triumphant celebration without anticipating the drama and […]

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Building the Exhibition

There’s a lot of designing going on in William Kent. The exhibition subtitle is ‘Designing Georgian Britain’, the title of this blog is ‘Designing William Kent’ (meta, I know), and a large number of the objects on display are designs for everything from chandeliers to landscape gardens, from town house ceilings to a royal barge. […]

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Behind Closed Doors: Lifting the Lid on a Royal Palace

After months of anticipation, the V&A has finally gone public with William Kent. We’re officially on the website, tickets are on sale, and posters adorn the (for now, firmly closed) doors of the exhibition space. Top marks for knowing which spectacular marble hall they show: This grand entrance conceals the hive of activity going on […]

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By George!

When the latest addition to the British Royal family was named last year, most reliable sources on royal affairs associated Prince George’s name with two illustrious predecessors: his great, great-grandfather, George V, who founded the House of Windsor; and Colin Firth, who played George VI in ‘The King’s Speech’. There is, however, another important George […]

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Kent: Bigger than Downton?

It’s been a good start to 2014 for William Kent. Not only did the New York Times publish a very favourable review of the exhibition at the Bard Graduate Center, the author also mentioned our ‘Signor’ and his architectural achievements in the same breath as everyone’s other favourite country house: Downton Abbey. On the face […]

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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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