Sunday, May 5, 2013

Coming Down to the Wire

It's coming down to the wire and I'm trying to make sure that I get everything done that I was sure I had to do and see.  I've seen everything at the V&A that interested me and was even surprised to find things that I didn't the Modern Glass section.   Was a little disappointed to hear an American make a comment about this being "so Seattle" without realizing the debt there is to the Italian glass community.  In fact, there was no work from any Seattle artist there.

My favorite part of the museum was the section on fashion.  The majority of the clothing in the museum was in this section although there were a few articles spread through the British Galleries as well as other halls.  Their collection starts with the early 1700s and goes through 2010.

One of the things that all of us in the gallery commented upon were the size of the shoes in the exhibit cases.  The shoes from the 17th and 18th centuries were all very small and NARROW.  These were all 3" or narrower across the widest part of the foot.  We all chatted with each other and wondered how could their feet have been that narrow?  No immediate answer was forthcoming.
Another interesting piece was the mantua, which was fashionable woman's wear between 1700 to 1740 although it was mandatory for women to wear them when they appeared at court until between 1745 and 1750.  They were designed to show off the exquisitely embroidered fabric, but required the wearer to walk sideways through most door openings.
Below is a close up of an embroidered men's waistcoat from the 18th Century.  What really impressed me and made me stop to think was that this work was done by hand.  I think about how long it takes to embroider just a few inches of this kind of fabric and how much fabric it takes for the waistcoat and my brain boggles.  
The work in this lace collar was absolutely exquisite.
These two locks were very unusual.  On the first one, there are two buttons below the figure's forward foot.  When pressed, the foot swings up at the knee (into a very unnatural position) and the key can be inserted and turned.  The rifle is pointing at a dial that has numbers all the way around.  Each time the lock is opened, the dial turns and keeps track of how many times it has been opened.  This security of course supposes, that you can remember what number it was on when last you opened it.
The second lock has TWO dials.  This was meant to be an extra level of security because the other person wouldn't know which dial was the actual dial.  Again, in order for it be any additional security, you'd need to remember which dial to look at AND which number it was on.   I don't think that these ever caught on.
Here's another item that screams "one of a kind".   It doesn't look like very much wood was harmed in the making of this chair.  However, looks like a lot of critters were.  I tried to get a better picture of this but it just wasn't as photogenic as you'd think.  There wasn't a good angle on this monstrosity.
Yesterday I went to the Churchill War Rooms.   These underground rooms below Whitehall were ordered to be built out in 1938 and were finished only weeks before World War II broke out.  They were reinforced with a 6 ft slab of iron and cement which made them all feel safer, but it was later determined to have been totally inadequate in the case of a direct hit.  It would have been hard to work in such close quarters and the sleeping conditions were decidedly unpleasant.

They also had an off shoot museum down there that covered the life and times of Winston Churchill.  It had a very interesting hands-on interactive high tech exhibit that was a time line of his life.   It was over 30' long and started on the left corner of the photo with 1874, the year he was born, and traveled up the left side and then back down the right side to the year 1965 and his death.
This second picture shows how the time line would slide back and forth and you could open up the individual years to see what happened in the world that year or something in Winston's own life.  It was very impressive.  It would have been easy to have spent hours in there, but it was the end of the day and my feet were done.
Although not one of his more famous quotes, I liked this one all the same.  
I'll leave you here with a short movie I took going down into the Underground this afternoon.

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