The Victoria and Albert Museum is up for an award. How does this museum make us think about awards? See below...
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A Personal Note (Archive)
April 29, 2016
The Victoria and Albert Museum is one of the five short listed candidates for museum of the year. The V&A is an interesting museum for such an accolade. The V&A was originally dedicated to industrial design. In 1913 the scientific and industrial collection was taken to the nearby Science Museum, and the V&A was switched to its present role as a collection of decorative art. But even if we think of the V&A in terms of decorative arts, this does not lessen the significance of its collection. The history of art shows that there was always a stifling weight of expectation on areas of art considered important. For many centuries fine art was confined to churches and cathedrals, and its subject matter was limited by its religious setting. It was only in the decorative arts, with much lower expectations, that artists could widen their scope. During the Renaissance when art finally began to leave the Church, it was decorative art that led the way, with many famous artists engaging in this kind of work. The fifteenth century artist Botticelli, for example, painted furnishings for domestic use. I've seen one of Botticelli's lovely laundry boxes at the National Gallery. A modern artist like Andy Warhol taps into this with his paintings of every day things - cans of beans and so on. So whether the V&A is the best museum or not, awards and a sense of importance can sometimes be a drawback. I'll think about that next time I don't get an award.
Historical news for May
Throughout May Bodiam Castle in East Sussex offers the chance to play with toys and games from medieval England. Events run between 11am and 4pm all month. Telephone 01580 830196
2016 is the 150th anniversary of the London Blue Plaque's scheme where properties linked to famous historical figures are marked with a blue plaque. There are now over 900 blue plaques on buildings across London, with three added last month for playwright Samuel Beckett, physicist Patrick Blackett and engineer Benjamin Baker. English Heritage is celebrating this anniversary with four guided walks in London on 7th and 8th May. For more information go to http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/blue-plaques/
Twice a year the Museums at Night festival sees museums and historical sites across the country opening their doors after hours. The next festival runs between 11th and 14th of May. For more details go to http://museumsatnight.org.uk/
Anniversaries for May
2nd May 1985: The artist Andy Warhol makes an entry in his diary - an unashamaedly mundane account of the people he meets and what he buys in shops. In this entry he objects to Bianca Jagger's attempt to make more of his life than he does: "And Bianca was driving me crazy saying how she was researching my days in Pittsburgh for her book on Great Men, and she went on and on about how I broke the system, broke the system, and I felt like saying, 'Look Bianca I'm just here. I'm just a working person. How did I break the system?' God she's dumb."
5th May 1967: Britain's first satellite, Ariel 3, goes into orbit around the Earth, after lauching in California. Ariel 3 was used to study conditions in the upper atmosphere.
16th May 2001: Deputy prime minister John Prescott punches a man who throws an egg at him during a visit to north Wales.
18th May 1964: Following a Whitsun weekend of clashes between Mods and Rockers on beaches in south England, four young men are jailed by Margate magistrates, while two men received similar punishment in Brighton. These events would be famously depicted in the film Quadrophenia made in 1979.
27th May 1955: Following five years of political stalemate, the Conservatives under Anthony Eden win a clear victory in the general election. Following the disastrous Suez Crisis, Eden resigns less than two years later.
31st May 1957: The House of Un-American Activites charges playwright Arthur Miller with contempt of Congress after he refuses to reveal the names of alleged Communist writers. The conviction would be quashed in August 1958.
A preview of my novel - about a girl who discovers that surprisingly she can't find her way to the sort of secret world found in story books. So she searches for an alternative.
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Thank you to photo contributors Danielle Davis, Jean Edwards, Vicky Eagle of Portsmouth Dockyard, Kevin Edwards, Derick Fusco, Julian Jones, Richard Jones, Jackie Lewis, Debbie Lowless, Judy Mills of the Corinium Museum, Jane Barron of the World Rugby Museum, and Susan Stuart of Old Spitalfields Market.