The most incredible thing I’ve seen in London so far has got to be the textile room at the Victoria and Albert Museum, although if you’re there, you can’t help seeing their fantastic exhibits on fashion, ironwork, and, right now, Kylie Minogue.
The textile room is an absolutely incredible resource, whether you are an embroiderer, graphic designer, painter, knitter, quilter, or any sort of artist at all. The shapes, textures, patterns and techniques are all incredible. I was expecting to see a few samples of particularly fine textiles through the ages, and instead was confronted with rows and rows of exquisite cabinets. Each rack has literally dozens of framed textiles through the ages, and there are shelves along the other wall so you can pull a few out and compare, say, 19th century Ottoman embroidery with 18th century English embroidery, or Ikat with chintz. Having all that at your fingertips is enough to make anyone dizzy. I could easily have spent all day here. If you’re in London, it’s a must, and if you’re not, check around and see if there are any textile resources near you. Or at the least, keep your eyes peeled at flea markets and garage sales and compile your own 20th century version…