16.11.12 – Trip to Natural History and V&A Museums

With another trip to London happening on our Graphic Design course to see certain exhibitions, it made sense to me to see what inspiration I could gain for my current ‘Words’ project. The plan for the day was to go and see four exhibitions, one at the Natural History Museum and three at the V&A Musuem. Below are my thoughts and what I gained from the trip. Apologies for the poor quality and lack of photos!

National History Museum: I think the Waterhouse building looks absolutely beautiful, a stunning example of Romanesque architecture that really stands out within London, which I think is quite an achievement given how much there is to look at in the area. What I was very interested in was the contrasting colour scheme for the outside of the Waterhouse building which, unlike in my photo really stands out when seen firsthand. The below quote was sourced from here.

“Terracotta tiles provide decoration inside and outside the building. Many feature relief carvings of plants and animals. The buff and cobalt-blue terracotta is both attractive and practical, as a hardy material that could resist the acid smogs of Victorian London.”

I think this makes for a great example of design as it is not only aesthetically pleasing but practical as well.

Inside, the stunning architecture continues, including the intricate painted ceiling panels. There always seemed to be something to look at, hopefully on a future visit I will get some more time to look around the inside of this museum.

Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Last year I went to see the 2011 exhibition, and I felt that was fantastic, definitely one of the best exhibitions I have seen, with a lot of inspiring photography, so the opportunity to go back there was great. This year’s exhibition was good, still featuring some astonishing photography, but on a personal note, I felt there was less that could inspire my designs. The category most interesting to me was ‘Wildscapes’, you can view the images by clicking on the link. I have not placed any images from here into my blog from their website as strong copyright enforcements are in place. I was hoping for some more photography based on the sky and astronomy to take inspiration forward to create an illustration from for the word ‘cosmonaut’, which is one I am doing for this ‘Words’ project.

V&A Museum: 

Hollywood Costume: My knowledge of fashion and films are almost non-existent (this lack of interest and in turn knowledge often causes people to be shocked and annoyed, and generally they won’t accept the fact I don’t have an interest and haven’t practically seen any films, so I tend to avoid conversations about it!) so I was not bothered about seeing this. However, it was very interesting to see the complex, crafted costumes that looked great, the time and skill it must take to make some of those costumes must be enormous! A couple of people I was with had watched a lot of the films the costumes were made for, and really enjoyed this exhibition. So on that basis, it is definitely worth a visit. Interesting to note how all the information for the costumes were presented in the style of a script actors and directors would read from, so the monospaced Courier typeface was in use as well as a regimented old-style layout.

A gripe I did have though regards the poor set-up of the exhibition. Costumes had limited viewing access, not easy with a reasonably large crowd, plus the ‘flow’ of people around the exhibition was awful because of the lack of ordering in the first exhibition hall. Some of the costumes were also placed so high near the ceiling, so were too easy to miss. Don’t let my opinion put anyone off seeing the exhibition but I make the point to show how important it is for an exhibition to be displayed properly.

I did pick up a promotional booklet from the lead sponsor of the exhibition, Harry Winston which I took the chance to explore the design of, which was of a very high quality, with a clear identity carried across to their website, even if the favicon for it looks rather like the one for Wikipedia!

Throughout this small booklet good use is made of mixing monochrome and colour photography, something that could be interesting to explore for the word ‘juxtapose’ I am designing for the ‘Words’ project.

Light From the Middle East: New Photography: If I am honest, I was not expecting much from this as I had looked on the website, and while there were a couple of pieces that looked alright, nothing jumped out at me so I did not read any more information about the pieces. However, actually visiting the exhibition helped to me see pieces differently, especially those of a wide landscape like the photo by Mitra Tabrizian, ‘Tehran 2006’, where the meaning was conveyed far better than on a website. Here I realised reading the captions added a lot of meaning and greatly aided my understanding of the piece. This is what I had neglected to do when I visited the website before and proves sometimes you need to do more than just look at the photography to understand what the meaning of the piece is. Lesson learnt!

V&A Illustration Awards 2012: This was an odd exhibition. Looking on the website, it looks as though there are lots of illustrations to see, so obviously myself and a couple of other people from the group were really interested in seeing this. But from what we could see, there was hardly any of these illustrations actually on show, just an area where a few had been placed. This was very surprising and extremely disappointing, as the hope was to gain a lot of inspiration here. I’ll take another look on the website, and see if there is anything that inspires me.

Conclusions: Overall, it was an interesting day, more so for the enrichment of my knowledge rather than inspiration for my current project. Hopefully what I have gained from this trip can be put to good use in the future.