Dinosaurs and Bejewelled Treasures 041115


The many many times I've been to the Natural History Museum, London, I've almost always been able to spot something new, and inspiring. This specific time I began to ponder about the structure of the building itself, how such a beautiful and ornate structure came to being. I wondered about the purpose of the building assuming that it was created for something much more prestigious. This particular visit I recognised more detail in the building, the sculpting of the pillars and ornamental carvings in the interior I became more and more aware of the purpose in which this building was constructed - for exhibiting the natural historic world. The ornate architecture sitting well in South Kensington against other buildings, complimenting one another. The little details of the monkeys carved out of stone pillars, and foxes in the ceilings, were only a few of the intricate details that caught my eye.

Upon returning I decided to research about the history of the museum. Alfred Waterhouse took over after the Royal Albert Hall architect won the competition to design the Natural History Museum. Sir Richard Owen, was predominantly responsible for the incredibly accurate carvings and details. He left his post as the curator of the Hunterian Museum for his role at the British Museum's Natural History collection. You can find more information about the history of the building here http://www.nhm.ac.uk/about-us/history-and-architecture.html

The Hunterian Museum, again is one of my favourite places, and with my previous visits to this exhibit it's clear to see eminences of Owen's design in the Natural History Museum conveyed from the Hunterian. The Hunterian Museum is a brilliant exhibition full of small species, or parts of species in preservation jars. It denotes characteristics of a science laboratory, with large glass cabinets and labels. The cabinet with the small delicate beings of animals in particular shows characteristics of this. A large glass cabinet with fractions of animals such as birds; with a display of various wings, bird heads, and claws just to name a few. 




I love the use of typography in site specific exhibits - I think predominantly to make it seem more interactive for families and children. Love the use of 3d text. Chemical reactions for example - effective to convey the meaning behind the word. Words designed to reflect the meaning of the word. I particularly loved the orange signs displayed in the earthquake simulator. The simplicity of the graphic in one colour and being printed on such a strong orange denotes ideas of warning signs/urgency/danger signs. I think this is a thoughtful and considered piece of typographical print, and I think it illustrates the seriousness of the message successfully - noting that many parents with their young children felt lead to read the signs out loud to their children to stress the importance.

W H E N   S O A K  B E C O M E S  S P I L L

The installation between the two museums (Natural History and V&A) is a large incredibly shiny metal sculptor. It wasn't until I came home and researched about the artwork it began to build a sense of clarity behind the work. (See photos below of silver metal structure) Contemporary Indian artist Subodh Gupta created this sculpture "When Soak Becomes Spill" is an incredibly well renowned artist exhibiting his public artwork all across the globe. Gupta's main trademark is creating large sculptures of everyday mundane objects. This particular piece combines a series of everyday pots and pans all in shiny metal almost spilling out of a huge metal vase. On the V&A article the reasoning behind the piece is written as follows: "For his installation 'When Soak Becomes Spill', Gupta has created a stainless steel bucket of an overwhelming scale with hundreds of small vessels spilling from the brim like flowing water. This alludes to the wastage of the world's natural resources and the growth of consumerism. The shiny utensils seem precious, bright and attractive - something to be coveted. They represent the temptation of new commodities and the promise of a better future. However, as these vessels are empty they suggest the ultimate poverty of a consumer society. " (http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/w/when-soak-becomes-spill-by-subodh-gupta/) 

Such an interesting site to showcase the artwork - in the middle of London. The capital; with thousands of consumers visiting galleries, quaint tea rooms, British cultural spots, landmarks and having free access for historical, artistic, and scientific educational experiences. It almost interrogates yourself internally as the audience viewing the piece - probably only after reading up about the piece.

On speculation, are we the consumers tempted with the promises of a better future if we educate ourselves more, become more cultured, more accomplished and intelligent? Or does it just mean we become an empty people just filled with the promises of these commodities? 

V & A   B E J E W E L L E D   T R E A S U R E S  

The V&A is such a vast collection, you could spend hours just sifting through the various walls of paintings from exotic histories. I've found a few particular pieces that I found - not necessarily valuable to my research - but interesting to unpack and decipher none the less.

Bejewelled treasures: The Al Thani collection in the Porter Gallery. The collection was incredibly beautiful, the way that the display showcased the jewellery was truly enchanting. jewellery was displayed in a black walled and floor depicting the preciousness and the expensiveness of the jewellery. Love the simplicity juxtaposing with the intricacy of the jewellery. “The Al Thani Collection highlights Indian traditions in design and craftsmanship, focussing on centuries-old techniques and processes. It allows you to see first-hand India’s influence on jewellery made by leading European houses in the 1920s and see contemporary pieces by modern masters, still drawing on those Indian traditions today.” This exhibit was fascinating the intricacy and the art form in crafting jewellery. 

The women's embroidered gown, was definitely a piece that caught my eye. The fabric at a distance looked of indian descent, however the structure of the garments implied a much more western background. After reading the plaque, I learned that the fabric was made in Gujarat, India and then later transported to England to be fabricated into these gowns. (photos below) I think the red and white/cream combination are the colours that characterised the Indian themes in the fabrics, alongside the intricate designs. I think being Sri Lankan, and being exposed to many indian fabrics and saris growing up aided me in the assumptions of the cross culmination of designs.

I absolutely adored the stain glass windows revealing the Story of Jesus. It felt quite foreign seeing these as pieces of art in a museum environment, when these are often beautifully adorning windows in large old churches. They almost get overlooked but them being displayed in these simple Lightbox walls exaggerated the complexity of the design, and the detail of the story depicted through broken pieces of coloured glass. Such a beauty! The broken pieces of glass almost seem completely felicitous to the pieces of Jesus' broken body on the cross,