Snapshots from the V&A

As a craftsman, I can’t go to London and not visit the V&A so I was pleased to have a couple of hours in there before my QEST interview, helped calm my nerves to see all that great work from over the ages. These are a few snaps I took, mostly through a glass case and with poor lighting which don’t do the works justice – if you can, get there yourself and enjoy it in real life but make sure you’ve plenty of time.

First, a visit to the Japan Room and delight at seeing the sword guards and handles for scabbbard knives. I’d enjoyed them before but was looking with new eyes since I’ve discovered the sublime work of classical metal artist Ford Hallam. The tiger handle, signed Masayuki from around 1750-1800, reminded me of his video ‘Utsushi – in search of Katsuhira’s tiger‘ which is transfixing. The sword guard, depicting Sailing boats and Mount Fuji is signed Toryu Hagen (1804-1876).
handles for scabbard knives sword hand guard

Next, spoons. If you want wooden spoons you’re better off visiting the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading, I couldn’t find any wooden spoons here but this display of metal spoons from the Koryo period of Korea caught my eye, particularly for the shadows they cast.

Korean metal spoons

You have to find your way all the way to the top floor to get to the Furniture gallery and it’s only one room when you do, though of course there’s other furniture around the museum. The reward is a display, mostly of chairs, from a wide range of styles and materials. Favourite of mine were the Thonet display and Gio Ponti’s Superleggera chair.
Thonet chairs Superleggera chair

Finally a few more contemporary pieces, including the classic ‘This Mortal Coil’ bookcase by Ron Arad and a single case intriguingly labelled ‘Handmade: Traditional Skills’ and featuring a basket by Jenny Crisp alongside one of David Pye’s bowls.
This Mortal Coil bookcase Handmade: Traditional Skills display

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About Steve Tomlin

I am a greenwood worker and scythe tutor. I carve spoons, bowls and other products from locally sourced greenwood. During the summer I teach scything around the UK.
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