I celebrated the end of 2010 by going to the Victoria and Albert today and seeing two exhibitions. I nearly did not make it. Having carefully arranged care for Michael from 0830 to 1900 hours. I arrived at Malvern station to be told that the 0858 was the first London train to go this week - and it was cancelled!!!! Normally there are four by 0858. I could not afford to waste an hour or more waiting around for the next train and, after checking Swindon was running normally, drove at high speed to Swindon - took less than an hour. I ended up in London earlier than I would have done if I had got on a Malvern train at 0858.
Anyway to the important things - The Ballet Russes and Chinese Imperial Robes. The Ballet Russes was very interesting. I knew Picasso had designed a complete ballet including the back cloth. I don 't care much for his large lady period but there you are. I did not know that Matisse had done one - very nice too. Matisse said afterwards of Diaghilev 'He is very clever but he's mad.' And refused to have anything to do with him ever again.
There was also a back cloth for the city in the Firebird - gorgeous and lots and lots of costumes. Interestingly, the costumes were all made of sumptuous materials. Silk and velvet abstract shapes appliqued to heavy silk and couched down with real gold thread. A bunch of fantastic ikat Central Asian coats - bought in the St Petersburg market in 1912.
Several screens showed ballet clips. For instance one showed a section of The Rites of Spring done as a reproduction of the original, costumes, backcloth and all while the other was by Pina Bausch all in either white or black - loose shifts. I preferred the second. Though I am reminded that I saw a performance in London (Covent Garden? Sadlers Wells) in the late 50s. That was vaguely based on the original but certainly not close.
I have made lots and lots of notes although what I am going to do with them I don't know. I have bought the Exhibition book and perhaps I will go through my notes and attach Post-it notes to the book. I spent ages going round this exhibition.
Then on to Imperial Chinese Robes. The garments seem very large and must have swamped the wearers. Most were very heavily embroidered but not to my taste - except for the lengths of fabric which were in the Imperial Storehouse and had never been used. The most beautiful brocades. This one is called Plum Blossom and Cracked Ice.
I was wilting by this time but climbed up to the Textile rooms and looked at the modern Japanese fabrics. There was a small display of Nuno fabrics.
After that I went home, suffering from severe gallery-itis. I must read the two books I have bought soon to reinforce what is in my mind.
Train and car journeys are quite productive for me. I have good ideas and always carry a notebook. Several solutions to upcoming projects presented themselves. But more of that tomorrow.
We celebrated New Year's Eve by watching a DVD of Der Fleidermaus in the Munich production.