For those readers of this magazine who have a specific interest in ocean liners, and who live in greater London, and are partial to visiting an absorbing museum that is exhibiting a subject that interests them, they are in for a major treat.
One of the UK’s national treasures is the Victoria & Albert Museum (the V&A) in South Kensington. Currently running there until the 10th June this year is an exceptional exhibition entitled “Ocean Liners: Speed and Style“.
In their words “The Great age of ocean travel has long since passed, but ocean liners remain one of the most powerful and admired symbols of modernity. No form of transport was as romantic, remarkable, or contested, and ocean liner design became a matter of national prestige as well as an arena in which the larger dynamics of global competition were played out.“ This view appears in the material produced by the V&A to attract visitors to their exhibition. It is not a simple leaflet or even a brochure. It is to be found in a beautifully illustrated book which in it’s own right is a work of art and befitting it’s parentage, V&A Publishing.
This ‘Coffee Table’ quality book produced in conjunction with the Exhibition considers over a century of liner design: from the striking graphics created to promote liners to the triumphs of engineering, and from luxurious interiors to on board fashion and activities. Ocean Liners, the exhibition and the publication, “explores the design of Victorian and Art Deco ‘floating palaces’, sleek post-war liners as well as these ships’ impact on avantgarde artists and architects such as Le Corbusier.”
Museum goers will be aware that some establishments occasionally combine with partners in other continents and share artefacts. This has been the situation in relation to this exhibition. From May until October in 2017, it was presented in the US at the prestigious Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA prior to being shipped to the V&A, London. The UK Exhibition has been supplemented, I believe, with material from the V&A London.
Speed and Style will run from 15 September 2018 – 24 February 2019 at V&A Dundee. In the V&A tradition, this new facility will probably become an iconic structure of this Scottish city. More about V&A Dundee in a future copy of Sea Breezes!