Sunday, 6 December 2009

Blacks still under warps even at the new V&A MedRen Wing

I was very disappointed to find on my first visit to the V&A’s new Medieval and Renaissance wing only to find the one piece I really wanted to see - A della Robbia ceramic altar piece with its black in the Magi preocession - was the only piece still not on full view to the public, as you can see in the picture below.

From Della Robbia


I wanted to see it ‘live’ as it was one of the three pieces I considered for my essay, I wanted to write that the black and rear of della Robbia’s Magi’s procession. It was eliminated because at the time – June 08 – I couldn’t see the work as it was in pieces in storage not accessible to the general public for health and safety reasons .

There were two restorers working on the pice one of who was kind enough to take these close up pictures of the black for me:

From Della Robbia


What a delight to see a sensitive and thoughtful bust of a black with much evidence of della Robbia’s possible contact with blacks – the broad nose, the fleshy lips strong cheek bones. One could speculate that this black was known to della Robba perhaps as a his own or a friend’s or patron’s slave or servant. This working is characteristic of artist who have actually had personal contact with the blacks they portrayed: such as Durer’s beautiful 1521 drawings of The Negress Katherina. the servant of the Portuguese factor João Brandão in Antwerp, when she was aged "20 Jar," according to the handwritten note (copyright http://www.wga.hu/). This quality of work is in direct contacts to the primitive coarsely worked black in the Rood screen.

From BHM2K8

Friday, 4 December 2009

The V& A's MedRen Wing and Obama Style Sponsorship

The Victoria and Albert Museum new Medieval and Renaissance Gallery is visually stunning, stupendous and sensational but is totally lacking in any interactivity, relying for its information on the tired, worn-out media of the small printed wall plaque, pathetically supported by a limited number of bigger print versions. Such plaques where fine in 1959 but this is 2009; television was the cutting edge information media then today it is the mobile phone and internet. The V&A have completely ignored the interactivity possibilities of today’s media.


In doing so the V&A has missed a trick and maybe a generation. No interactivity; no mobile phone; no Internet; no back channel. It is all one way. The V& A is talking – you listen! It doesn’t work – sorry. Yes it looks great but what did the works mean in their day and exactly what do they mean to us in the twenty-first century.

The V&A has missed a sponsorship opportunity. Yes it has been successful in attracting wealthy sponsors but that is not were its sponsorship could come from. The model, today, has to be Obama’s 2009 election campaign - millions of tiny donations rather than a tiny number donations of millions. Why couldn’t the V&A offer the interactivity of a work as a sponsorship opportunity?

Here’s how it will work.

The V&A chooses its preferred near field interactive media. There are a number to choose from Bluetooth, RFID, mobile phones. Wi-Fi each has its good and bad points but that’s not the issue - V&A decides on its preference, then offers at price (or revenue share) the sponsorship of the interactivity of each or selected works.

The V& A needs to move its display policy from the twentieth to the twenty-first century. It is required by law to widen its appeal and its needs more money so why not resolve both issues and broadened its sponsorship base .How ? By offering that sponsored interactivity of selected works.