11 February 2014

Shooting at the V&A

Taking a new tack on the museum/labyrinth project ... it involves shooting feet - and floors - at the V&A -

Things can look so different underfoot ... not that anyone notices much of the floor, I think. The museum has lots of the herringbone parquet, and dark-grey tiles in low-lit areas (recently renovated), but more excitingly it has lovely Victorian tiles and beautiful marble on the grand staircases and the entrances. The mosaic tiles were laid by girls from the workhouse, in the 1890s I believe.

Looking for confirmation of that factoid, which may have been misremembered from a "highlights" tour (taken with my mother) in 1995, I found an architectural history of the V&A - fascinating to see the menu in 1867 (there was a first-class menu and a second-class one) - ranging from cold chicken and ham for 2/ (two shillings) to bread, butter, cheese for 1d (one pence). At that time a labourer's weekly wage might be £1, so food wasn't cheap - in "old money", a shilling was 1/20th of a pound, and a pence was 1/12th of a shilling ... you're very welcome to do the maths ...

More links to the history of the building are in the sidebar on this page of the V&A website.

Back to those tiles - mosaic panels which adorn the walls were made by women from the mosaic class at the art school attached to the museum (according to this report of a lecture (video here) by Dr Heike Zech) - this type of mosaic work was even given a name, Opus Anglicanum (harking back to the renowned embroidery of the middle ages). The same report uses the term Opus Criminale to describe the tiled floors (designed 1869-72 by FW Moody) - made by women inmates of Woking Prison.
(More mosaics in London are shown here - fascinating - who knew?)

1 comment:

JAQUINTA said...

this is an interesting development....
so your work could be short films of people walking across the floors, photographs of floor patterns and drawings/textiles based on floor patterns and research into the history of the tiles used ......

I have been following your ideas with interest