Have you ever wondered how exhibitions at the V & A Museum are put together ? I’ve always been intrigued, so after an amazing cocktail event laid on by Good Earth ( more on that in a bit ) at the Fabric of India Exhibition, I did a little interview with the curators Divia Patel and Rosemary Crill …
You have a dream job . How did you get in to curating at the V & A ?
DP: I did an MA in South Asian History and Anthropology at SOAS.
What inspired the India Festival ?
RC: We are holding the India Festival, a series of exhibitions, displays, events and digital initiatives that will explore the rich and varied culture of South Asia, to celebrate the 25thanniversary of the opening of the Museum’s Nehru Gallery, which displays some of the most important objects from the V&A’s South Asian art collection produced between the 16th and 19th centuries.
For your exhibition, you have a team including a Sound Designer, Project Manager, Exhibition Designer as well as yourselves on the ‘ Fabric of India ‘ – how do you all work together to make it all happen ?
DP: Lots of people are involved in V&A exhibitions from many different departments in the Museum. Whilst the curators decide on the narrative of the show and what objects will be on display, getting the exhibition ready involves a huge number of people; a design team, builders, the exhibitions team to manage the logistics, conservation experts, technical experts, as well as the curators. We all work closely together, many several years in advance.
I especially admired the collection is the Chikankari Sari. Do you have a personal favourite ?
RC: Although I love and admire the beautiful historic pieces made for the Mughal emperors and other rulers, I am very fond of the simpler pieces in the ‘Nature and Making’ section of the exhibition. These have such understated elegance, even if they are completely plain – they all have their own special texture or weave, and it’s a delight to be able to give them their moment of fame.
DP: I love so many things in the exhibition that it is difficult to pick a favourite. For me the sari that opens the show, the Houndstooth sari by Abraham and Thakore is special because it so elegant and simple but says so much about the continuing traditions of India and how they can still be relevant.
Are all the exhibits donated ?
RC: Some of the exhibitions have been kindly loaned by institutions or donations around the world, whilst many are from the V&A’s own extensive collection. These have mostly been purchased over the years, but a considerable number have been given as donations.
Good Earth are supporting the exhibition – this seems to be the perfect collaboration ?
DP: Yes, it is ! The V&A and Good Earth are delighted that the brand is a sponsor of the exhibition. Good Earth’s celebration of the heritage of India and support of traditional crafts means they are a fitting sponsor and understand the story the V&A is trying to tell.
Will visitors also be able to purchase their products online from the V & A ?
DP: The V&A Shop are also celebrating the V&A India Festival with a beautiful range of products inspired by rich Indian culture. A range of Good Earth designs will be on sale in the V&A Shop and via vandashop.com
There will be a series of events over the next few months for the Festival, exploring South Asia – what will this involve ?
RC: There’s lots more Festival activity. For The Fabric of India there’s a Friday Late in November, a special conference, and talks and workshops (visit vam.ac.uk/whatson for more information). We also have our next major exhibition Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection opening on 21 November, which will present around 100 spectacular objects from or inspired by the jewellery traditions of the Indian subcontinent.
Many thanks to Divia and Rosemary. I want their job ! :)
If you get a chance to visit during the festival – you must go. The experience is amazing and I particularly loved the atmospheric music.
As I mentioned a little earlier … the party at the V & A was nothing short of stunning. An aroma of pure jasmine and rose petal oils filled the room and the soft but colourful lighting was incredibly warm and elegant.
I drank alcohol free lychee cocktails ( wow,very palatable .. ) while my friend enjoyed the champagne.
Lots of women wore exquisite saris that made my eyes dance with happiness – and there were pretty lanterns and rose petals beautifully scattered over the tables.
This was all a gift to all to the invited guests from Good Earth, the Home Decor company who are sponsoring the exhibition. I already knew of them as I have had my eye on their quilts for some time… especially the Champaka Muslin Razai one. :)
They are now established globally after being known across India for their luxury, hand crafted, unique designs. Sustaining tradition and ecology is a priority for them, which really appeals to me too. I love that each design holds a significance and has a story behind it.
I was lucky enough to take away a few of their pieces in my bag on the night. The book above is full of dreamy colours and inspiration.
The mug is fine bone china and decorated with 24 carat gold. I’m enjoying some mint tea in it. Bliss.
I’ve never seen sheer, delicate, cocktail napkins like this before. Do you like them ? They are in an aqua marine blue and cinnamon and hand block printed. What a treat.
Can’t wait to pop this Peacock Ornament on our Christmas tree. Apparently it is made by soldering fine wires together to make intricate lace like patterns, that originated during the Roman period. The technique is called Filigree.
How did I find out these little nuggets of information ? All of the products have a little information card with them. How cool is that ?
Hope you’ve enjoyed my post ? What kind of exhibitions inspire you ? Leave me a comment or tweet me @lucylovesyablog …
The Fabric of India, supported by Good Earth India, with thanks to Experion and Nirav Modi, is at the V&A from 3 October, vam.ac.uk/fabricofindia
Photographs 1-7 copyright of V & A 2015. Photos 8 – 11 are taken by me – Lucy Loves Ya.