The Victoria and Albert Experience

The Victoria and Albert Museum houses one of the most comprehensive ranges of art forms in the world. From ceramics and sculptures to textile and fashion, the collections in this museum truly cater to a variety of tastes. Being a relative novice in the art world, I ventured into the Contemporary Art collection of the museum, located at the Porter House.

Displaying a vast cornucopia of modern designs in textile, architecture, and ceramics and so on, the Porter House is a feast for people who like extremes. The colours in the room itself are a vast contrast, it changes from bright yellows and oranges to sober greys and blues. The designs themselves have very little of Victoria or Albert in them, and live up to the current sensation of contemporary art.

A piece that held my attention was a chair ‘Bar + Knell’ made out of recycled plastic. This was an artefact made from the plastic items donated by the staff. It was commissioned by the Furniture & Woodwork department at the V & A. Not too high, it is almost like a child’s chair. Clearly visible are the plastic bottles and containers melted into the cast which forms the chair.

Almost like a piece of furniture cloaked in one of Picasso’s paintings, the chair screams the influence of contemporary art and modern painting. The heavy, asymmetrical legs and arm rest less design of the chair is kitschy and stylish.

The superiority of the piece is that the colours have been meshed so beautifully. The bright yellow, the garish green and the subtle mix of blues and reds have been placed so strategically. There is a clear unity in the disorder. What is even more appealing about the piece is the fact that, it is relevant in today’s world where global warming is an ever looming threat. The social significance of the piece makes it even more commendable.

As appealing as this piece was, there were some others that did not quite live up to my expectations. The sculpture by Japanese artist, Takeuchi Denji, was a heavy let down. The piece which was a glass sculpture was lack lustre at best. The cast and glued glass, lacked panache, the lines were too precise to evoke any brilliance and the colours too were unimaginative.

The Contemporary art collection is very meticulously maintained. The pieces are fresh and imaginative, the colours bold and the lines dramatic.

On the whole, the contemporary art forms in the gallery are definitely worth a visit. Besides the contemporary art collection there are several other collections such as Fashion, Furniture, Jewellery, Architecture, Ceramics, etc. There are special exhibitions too in the museum.

The best part about a visit to this museum is the variety of interests and tastes it caters to. It is the ideal location for a group of friends with different interests to visit. However, since it is such a large museum, it is best to choose which things you would want to focus on. One can easily spend a day here.

The museum also conducts courses, lectures, quizzes etc. for interested people.

The entry is free, except for special exhibitions.


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