Saturday, 14 April 2012

No special talent required

I took my son to see the British Design show at the Victoria and Albert Museum today.  I am writing 'V and A' because there is a stupid glitch in Blogger that goes a bit mad if you try and use an ampersand.

The show purports to be a survey of 'design' in Britain from 1948 to the present - all design: textile, graphic, product etc etc.  It even includes a bit of film, music and architecture.  There was a lot of nice photography dotted about and some nice use of film and video.  But it is really more a survey of popular culture than it is any kind of rigorous exhibition of design.

We enjoyed the show a lot, though.  It is never, ever dull.  It just tries to do too much.  If it had attempted to do one decade instead of six, or had stuck to graphics or textiles instead of trying to do everything.  As it is, it seems to have been curated by someone who knows a lot about the 1950s and 60s, but not quite so much about the 70s and 80s.  It seems to get patchier and patchier as it nears the present.

But it is still well worth a visit.  We spent hours in there and the time seemed to whizz by.  Oh - and the title of this post - in case you're wondering - came from a Pop Art piece by Edwardo Paolozzi which had a collection of toys and games.  One of them was a build-your-own Rodin's The Thinker.  The box proudly proclaimed - 'Assembly kit - no special talent required'.

I imagine Paolozzi had a chuckle when he put that in - and we chuckled too.

It was fascinating to see things from your own life in museum displays - whether it was the Aladdin Sane album artwork or motorway signage.  Most nostalgic for me was a little flyer from the late 70s for Manchester's Russell Club AKA The Factory.  A reminder of some very good times.

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