I was commissioned by the V&A shop to design a print for their successful range of exclusive special editions. After some time of researching the history of the building and institution, and visits wandering the vast and labyrinthine corridors of the wonderful architecture my outcome is 'Phantasmagoria' . The print in essence explores the nature of observing a place in the context of its history alongside experiencing it as an individual, resulting in a personal map of the museum.
'We have almost lost the idea of a museum being a work of art in its own right. Instead it has become a complex machine for the presentation and display of objects. For the interior decoration of a museum to be anything but subservient to the artefacts it displays has come to be regarded as almost a crime'.
I was interested to learn of the many lives of what we now call the V&A museum. The RCA's initial residency, The Museum of Ornamental Art, The Museum of Construction. For years the purpose of the site was unclear- instead the excitement lay in the architecture and interiors of the building rather than its contents. The officials were all keen on experimenting with, and reviving the use of mosaic in glass and ceramic, tile, terracotta and mural paintings, the dedication to this intent was so much so that family, friends, RCA students and convicts, were brought in to complete the decorative floor work. Structurally forward thinking too, the emphasis was on using 'new samples of building stones and marbles, specimens of all the best cements and asphalts'…even down to the guttering and pipe work new innovations were used.
Growing up in London,and visiting the museum at many different stages of my life the building holds for me personally layers of experience. In the same way memories and dreams can interweave one another, the hallways, staircases, and the surprisingly vast rooms that I have walked at one time, or another, always retain the traces of something other than the present, shifting and rearranging itself in my absence, and presenting a new self to me on every occasion.
Available in the V&A shop or online here.
Quotes from 'The Victoria & Albert museum- A history of its building' by John Physick.