Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Escape to the V&A

As I get older, I find myself retreating quite more often into my solitary enclave. 

If I can recall correctly, The Economist's Intelligent Life once asked a group of writers and authors in their section 'The Big Question' what their choice of escape is when everything becomes too overwhelming. Columnist and author Arianna Huffington mentioned that she looks within herself. 

Nothing's too overwhelming as of late, except it was my birthday a week ago. Now, that's overwhelming for some. I decided a couple of years back that I would celebrate my birthday doing something artsy or cultural on the day. 

So I found myself staring at her as she greeted me from the aptly named Exhibition Road entrance of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. 

More fondly called the V&A, it is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design housing a permanent collection of 4.5 million objects in its 145 galleries. It's a must to pop in when you find yourself in London.

The one thing I love about living around London is I don't seem to run out of first times. 

Above is the tunnel from South Kensington tube station along the Piccadilly Line. After nearly a decade of living here, I haven't set foot there as I used to only take the bus to get to work in Knightsbridge from where I used to live in West London. But as with most Londoners I have met, none of us is born and bred, so that makes me a resident tourist.

On the Piccadilly Line, get off South Kensington station. The signages will point you straight to the above entrance. Be prepared to get sidetracked though as the other museums might lure you instead.

The V&A Museum is the first museum in the world to offer a refreshment facility. The interlinked Café rooms are now called The Gamble, Poynter, and Morris Rooms.

Above is The Gamble Room which was the original Refreshment Room. Designed by James Gamble, the walls and ceilings are made of decorative and elaborate ceramic and enamelled metal plates and tiles. I have been to the V&A several times before but had not been to the café. I bought lunch from Benugo and shared a table with a couple of ladies who were just as preoccupied with admiring the architecture. It was tempting to fire away on social media, but I patted myself on the back for posting only one Instagram shot of the premises. 

On the architectural history page of the V&A, it's mentioned that the windows are full of Victorian mottoes celebrating the joys of eating and drinking. "Hunger is the best sauce." "A good cup makes all young." Looking up and around me, amidst hushed conversations and ruminative moods, it was indeed a body and soul nourishment.

It was yet another chance for me to practice with my new Canon EOS 100D. My camera was my date. We're at the getting-to-know-each-other stage. It may take a while, but it looks promising.

I'm quite fascinated by chandeliers and lighting fixtures. Is there a medical term for that?

Originally called the Grill Room because it was fitted out to broil chops and steak, it's been renamed as The Poynter Room in honour of its designer, Edward Poynter. Museum visitors used to come here for breakfast. 

In the 1860s, it was a revolutionary move by Sir Henry Cole, the first director of what was then called South Kensington Museum, to initiate the participation of the students in decorating the museum. Unheard of during the time, the ladies in the tile-painting class at the Schools of Design in the museum produced these tile panels that now adorn The Poynter Room.

I stood here for a good few minutes admiring The Poynter Room, through to The Gamble, and The Morris Room, designed by one of the most famous designers of the Victorian period, the textile designer William Morris.

I mentioned being sidetracked earlier. It can't be helped. I came to the V&A for two exhibits, but managed only one. On my next post, I'll take you to that display for which I dragged myself out of bed.

See you next time!

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  1. Adore this museum....the Morris room is my addiction...love his works so so much!! My blog used to have one of his works as my backgroud actually, I miss it at times, haha!! So glad you went and enjoyed, it is so needed to have alone time to just wander around and take the peace in!! Have a sweet day doll xx

    1. Funnily enough, I didn't venture into the Morris Room. I will be back anyway, so definitely my coffee will be there. Looking forward to the spring/summer though so I can sit outside x

  2. The V&A is one of my favourite museums in London!


  3. What a lovely way to spend one's birthday! Now that's my type of celebration! The V&A is pretty high on my must-see list, and after seeing those cafe photos, I'm completely sold :)

    Belated happy birthday again, Marj!

    1. Thank you Rhona! In fact, we can even go there together! :D

  4. I've enjoyed a good few visits to the V&A. It's a wonderful museum and their special temporary exhibitions are always so impressive. I still remember the 'Pearl' one which was when I had lunch in the café. I must admit I couldn't stop looking at the design of the room. Good selection of food too. I always enjoy the background information in your posts as well as the photos of course!

    1. Yes, I remember the 'Pearl' exhibit! I must really check out the exhbits as much as I can. Most of them are free also, so it's really a good way to indulge one's self. Thank you for your comment miss b :)

  5. What a great way of celebrating your birthday!

    I love London's museums and galleries. There's always something new to discover. x

    1. Oh hello there, you're back! same here, there's always something going on. We just have to make time for these things x


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