Friday, 24 May 2013

Suzannah Lipscomb and Lucy Worsley at the V&A

The V&A Museum never fails to inspire me - corridors of beautifully rich textiles and delicately carved statues dating hundreds of years old! Every time I visit (which is pretty often! It's practically my second home!) I find a new treasure that absolutely enthrals me. My favourite gallery is still the South Asia gallery, with its Mughal Empire displays: the beautifully hand-printed chintz gowns, hand sewn so precisely, and the finely pleated with muslin gowns are just incredible.

The programme of talks at the V&A is always just as inspiring, and features such a variety of speakers. These are open to the public, and V&A members get access to some special talks.

This week I went to two very interesting talks, one by Suzannah Lipscomb and the other by Lucy Worsley.

Firstly, "Fit for a King: Power, Glory and Fashion at the Tudor Court" by Suzannah Lipscomb, on Saturday afternoon. Suzannah Lipscomb is a historian, academic and broadcaster. Her latest book, "A Visitor's Companion to Tudor England" takes us to historic buildings across England to uncover their Tudor backstories.

"Fit for a King" was a fascinating introduction to Tudor court dress, and the materials and accessories used to create such extravagant and impressive clothing. We really got a sense of the incredible splendour and theatre of the Royal Court. As a costume design student, I love this idea of embedding clothing in symbolism (through colour, fabric and motifs) to portray your identity in the most dramatic and memorable way possible. As Suzannah highlighted, this use of symbols and imagery was so important in the Tudor world, made up of a society largely illiterate.

This talk was particularly helpful for the Tudor Costume project I am currently working on - if you haven't read about it already please read my introductory post here!

Here are my notes from the talk - I hope you can read my writing!

Secondly, on Tuesday evening, Lucy Worsley gave a talk on the history of the home. Lucy Worsley is also a historian, and is currently Chief Curator at the Historic Royal Palaces, encompassing Hampton Court Palace, Kew Palace, Kensington Palace, the Tower of London and the Banqueting Hall. In her talk entitled "An Intimate History of the Home", Lucy led us through from the bedroom to the kitchen, to see "if walls could talk", what would they tell us about our society?
This was a reminder to me, as someone particularly interested in the history of dress, that fashion does not occur in isolation - what factor does furniture play in developing the shape of skirts, for example? Or is it the other way round? Either way, the home plays an immeasurable importance in the way our society functions, and the roles we play within it.
I hope you enjoyed reading my notes from these two fantastic talks - credit goes to the two wonderful speakers! Check out their websites for more information on their work:
Also, take a look at the great programme of events happening at the V&A!

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