The exhibition on Alexander McQueenis stunning, at the V&A Museum, London. “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” is the biggest retrospective exhibition in Europe, organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
The V&A Museum exhibition displays the creative body of work of Alexander McQueen spanning from his 1992 MA graduate collection to his unfinished A/W 2010 collection. The set –up of the show is made following the designer style, which was theatrical and with a thespian sense.
In 2011, the original edition of Savage Beauty was organised at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York by the Costume Institute. It has been one of the Museum’s top 10 most visited exhibitions.
Similarly, the V&A Museum of London version has been a great success too. So far, it has sold almost half million of tickets. The V&A Museum decided to put on sale 12,000 extra tickets for night time openings (between midnight and 6.00am) following numerous requests.
The complementary exhibition publication “Alexander McQueen” (edited by Claire Wilcox) is now officially the V&A’s most successful one, with more than 58,000 copies sold and currently featuring in the UK’s top ten non-fiction bestsellers chart. Records are also set by the V&A Museum website and waiting the end of the show to have final results.
Gainsbury and Whiting, the production company that collaborated with Alexander McQueen in staging his catwalk
shows are working with the V&A Museum on the exhibition. Samantha Gainsbury of Gainsbury & Whiting is the Exhibition Creative Director (Alexander McQueen) and was Creative Director of the original exhibition. Each room catch the spirit of the provocative, dramatic and extravagant catwalk presentations that McQueen became renowned for, combining storytelling, theatrical performance, music and film.
Every room of the Alexander McQueen exhibition is differently arranged in a sort of theatrical style, with music and play lights. The first room, ‘London’, is set up on steady grey cement- like style. McQueen once said: “London’s where I was brought up. It’s where my heart is and where I get my inspiration.”
The second room, ‘Savage Mind’, is the one that gave name to the exhibition. It has the same staging arrangement of the previous.
Third room, ‘Romantic Gothic’, has a predominance of black and gold colours, mannequins wear leather masks, crests and some light colour dresses.
‘Romantic Primitivism’, the following room, is very dark and on the walls there are cast bones, reminding cannibalism and primal acts.
Also focused on the same topic is the next room: ‘Romantic Nationalism’. Here mannequins wear golden embossed masks, tartans, gold plated metal pearls and Swarovski. The walls are arranged in Scottish club theme.
The sixth room is ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’. From the floor to the ceiling, there are overall items displayed in sort of boxes cabinet style. Every space has a mannequin or an object, made for catwalks, for example headdress, garments.
There are screens showing images of catwalks. Music is in the background. In the middle of the room, stands a mannequin turning with head cover in wax or plastic material.
The following room is the most famed of the exhibition. It s a dark room with a glass pyramid and inside of it there are play of lights ongoing endlessly. At a certain moment, a holographic 3D image of a beautiful lady wearing a white dress appears like a ghost moving. It is an impressive moment where the image of Kate Moss appears in a gown of rippling organza near life size as it was for the finale of the Widows of Culloden (A/W 2006-7) catwalk show.
The eighth room, ‘Romanticism Exoticism’, is outfitted in an oriental style, with mirrors in the back of turning mannequins, with a blonde haircut bowl.
The room nine, ‘VOSS’ is very dark, with play of lights, which are constantly changing, misplacing people. A video is projected in the background.
But when entering in the next room, ‘Romantic Naturalism’, there is a passage from dark to bright. There are big vitrines reminding the countryside. There is not music here, but sounds of birds. Dresses are looking like to be inspired by a Shakespearean drama, like Midsummer Night Dream.
In the last room, ‘Plato’s Atlantis’, colours are bright. Mannequins wear space age clothes and have head cut rabbit style. The music is drum and bass. A big screen on the back of mannequins shows images of models. This was the last fully realised and staged collection for McQueen (2010).
Lee Alexander McQueen, CBE, was born on 17th March 1969 and died 11th February 2010. He was a British fashion
designer and couturier. He is known for having worked as chief designer at Givenchy from 1996 to 2001 and for founding his own Alexander McQueen label. His achievements in fashion earned him four British Designer of the Year awards (1996, 1997, 2001 and 2003), as well as the CFDA’s International Designer of the Year award in 2003.
Born of humble origins in Lewisham, Alexander McQueen was the youngest of six children. He attended Rokeby School and left aged 16 in 1985 with one O-level in art, going on to serve an apprenticeship with Savile Row tailors Anderson & Sheppard, before joining Gieves & Hawkes and, later, the theatrical costumiers Angels and Bermans.
While on Savile Row, McQueen’s clients included Mikhail Gorbachev and Prince Charles. At the age of 20, he worked for a period for Koji Tatsuno before travelling to Milan, Italy and working for Romeo Gigli.
McQueen returned to London and applied to Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, to work as a pattern cutter tutor. However, he was persuaded by Bobby Hillson, the Head of the Masters course, to enroll as a student. He received his master’s degree in fashion design and his 1992 graduation collection was bought in its entirety by influential fashion stylist Isabella Blow, who persuaded McQueen to follow his carrier using his middle name, Alexander.
McQueen earned an international reputation in the fashion world as an expert in creating impeccably tailored looks and counted in his customers in between the most famous personality, including David Bowie, Björk, Sylvie Guillem, Nicole Kidman, Penélope Cruz, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Rihanna, J-pop queens, such as Ayumi Hamasaki, Namie Amuro, and Koda Kumi, and Lady Gaga.
Tulle and lace dress with veil and antlers, Widows of Culloden AW 2006, Model Raquel Zimmermann, Viva London, Image first ® the V&A Museum , London.
In 1996, he was appointed head designer for Givenchy, until 2001. He then realized his most celebrated catwalk show the 2001 Spring/Summer collection, named VOSS.
McQueen founded his own company in 1992. In December 2000, the Gucci Group acquired 51% of his company and appointed him as Creative Director. By the end of 2007 he had boutiques in London, New York, Los Angeles, Milan, and Las Vegas.
On 11th February 2010, in the morning, his housekeeper found McQueen dead hanging at his home on Green Street, London W1.
Company owner Gucci confirmed that the brand would continue, and McQueen’s long-term assistant Sarah Burton was named as the new creative director of Alexander McQueen in May 2010.
The V&A’s presentation of the exhibition is being made possible with the cooperation of Alexander McQueen and will be in partnership with Swarovski, and supported by American Express.
The exhibition is being curated by Claire Wilcox, Senior Curator of Fashion, V&A and Professor in Fashion Curation, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London.
Andrew Bolton, Curator of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York is Consultant Curator and was Curator of the original exhibition.
The exhibition “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” is ongoing until the 2nd of August 2015, at the V&A Museum, South Kensington, London.
“Forensics” was a brilliantexhibition, at the Wellcome Collection, London.
As the Wellcome Collection is one of the best London gallery specialised in science, “Forensics: the anatomy of crime” exhibition examined its history and art. It spanned across centuries and continents. It considered the places (crime scene, courtroom, and laboratory), together with the skilled specialists and investigators involved, and the cultural appeal with death and detection humans have since centuries.
The exhibition Forensics brought together original evidences, archival material, photographic documentation, film footage, instruments and specimens. It presented laboratory finding, documents, files, and various materials, but also significant video installations and artworks.
The Wellcome Collection exhibition showed historical overviews of the forensic science and related disciplines, including entomology, pathology, toxicology, fingerprinting, blood splatter and DNA, anthropology, digital forensics, and forensic psychology.
Divided in five rooms, Forensics exhibition started with ‘The Crime Scene’, Room 1, about the importance of examining every small element in the place where the criminal activity occurred. The Police follows strict protocols and work alongside with experts and consultants. A body inspection is made by a medical examiner or a pathologist. The crime scene is usually photographed, but, as in the past, sometimes documentary sketches are made. Scale models are also playing a significant part.
The second room, ‘The Morgue’, was about the place where a corpse is placed before burial. The contemporary
morgue was born in the second half of the 19thcentury. The term comes from the French ‘morguer’, meaning ‘to peer’. The today morgue is more clinical and is dedicated to post-mortem examinations, or autopsies. In cases of suspicious death the coroner can request an autopsy to establish the causes. The term ‘autopsy’ derives from ancient Greek and it means ‘to see with one’s own eyes’. Nowadays, forensic pathology has developed new methodologies that go together with traditional autopsy, for example the virtual autopsy table.
The third room was focused on ‘The Laboratory’. The first police crime laboratory was founded in 1910 by Edmond Locard, at the police department of Lyon (France). Locard introduced the basic principle of forensic science: “Every contact leaves a trace”. From there on, in the laboratory are conducted examination of residual traces, including DNA, fingerprints, blood, hair, skin cells, and bodily fluids. In the room there was an installation of a video, protagonist Angela Galloy, laboratory expert from Home Office Forensic Science Service.
It is important that a reconstruction of the crime events is made. In the room 4, ‘The Search’, on display there were methodologies of facial reconstruction, which as contemporary consists of a collective practice between forensic artist, forensic anthropologist, and forensic odontologist, who can recreate a cranial from remains using clay or 3D computer imaging. It is important both for forensic crime, especially when in breach of human rights, but also for identifying missing person in the aftermath of mass disasters.
In this room, also was on display ‘Ab uno disce omnes’ by Šejla Kamerić the most important artwork of the Wellcome exhibition. It comes from Virgil’s Aeneid and translates as “from one learn all”. It was a sort of refrigerating room with a video installation inside. It was conceived as a living monument to the Bosnian War massacre (1992-95). Kamerić has assembled a vast archive that unites the human stories with the mass data and statistic generated by the ongoing effort to identify the victims. ‘Ab uno disce omnes’ is also dedicated to Chilean victims of dictatorship regime of Pinochet.
The last room was titled ‘The Courtroom’, which represents the final stage of an investigation. The model of contemporary Western courtrooms is based on the ancient Roman system. The adversarial system, instead, arrived in the English law in the 18th century. The need of a precise medical support for investigation became more and more important and lead to the Medical witness Act (1836). The Old Bailey was built at the beginning of the 20th century. Nowadays, the accuracy of medical evidence is so important that can decide a trial, for example, the DNA test has been used to clear many wrongly convicted who were on the death row.
In this room, artist Taryn Simon displayed her work made of a number of interviews and photographs depicting the upsetting consequences of wrong convictions on innocents.
The importance of forensic support for an investigation is today undisputable. However, in the past the situation was very different. Despite the modern trial is based on the medieval one, the notion that condemnation should be based
on proper evidences is a recent matter. In the past, in fact, people were accused or found guilty for many different reasons, but no ascertained proof, for example, their lack of status; their origins; because of their, or a relative, ability with herbs; for the colour of their skin; because they had sex with an inappropriate partner; because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time; or for any other reason not connected with their real responsibility.
Therefore, forensic has been a key stone, since it started to be used in investigations.
With a small quirky hint, the Wellcome Collection exhibition was amazing, and proposed an unusual point of view on a matter much enjoyed by the people and also writers – especially those of crime stories. It highlighted the relationship between law and medicine.
A wide programme of events accompanied the exhibition, including a successful publication of the same name, by crime writer Val McDermid.
The exhibition “Forensics: the anatomy of crime” was at the Wellcome Collection, Euston, London, from 26th February 2015 until 21st June 2015.
The Wellington exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery of London has been intriguing. “Wellington: Triumphs, Politics and Passions” was the first gallery exhibitiondedicated to the Duke of Wellington, at theNational Portrait Gallery, London. It commemorated the 200th anniversary year of the Battle of Waterloo in 2015.
The exhibition was focused on the political and military career of Wellington, but also on his personal life through portraits of his family and friends.
It was a tiny but significant exhibition of three only sections, however displaying 59 portraits and other art works. Some of the objects were rarely seen before, including loans from the family such as a portrait by John Hoppner of the young Duke as a soldier and a daguerreotype portrait by Antoine Claudet, in the new medium of photography, taken on Wellington’s 75th birthday in 1844. The family has also loaned Thomas Lawrence’s beautiful drawing of Wellington’s wife, Kitty (née Pakenham).
An important highlight of the exhibition was the renowned portrait of Thomas Lawrence painted at the Battle of Waterloo (1815), usually displayed at Apsley House, the home of Wellington in London. This iconic image of Wellington was used as the basis of the design of the British five pound note from 1971 to 1991.
The exhibition “Wellington: Triumphs, Politics and Passions” brought together many different stories. For example, the real account of soldiers fighting in Wellington’s armies, eyewitness reports through prints based on sketches by serving soldiers and the illustrated diary of Edmund Wheatley, a young officer who wrote it in a lively style, addressed to his beloved girlfriend.
The exhibition ended with a video, in section 3, of the duration of 8 minutes. It screened the Funeral Procession of Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG GCB GCH PC FRS. Or better, it displayed the longest portrait in the National Portrait Gallery, a view of the Wellington funeral, stored in its Archive since 1911. On show for the first time, the impressive view is at 67 feet long, the length of two London buses, or 67 Wellington boots laid end to end.
Eight panels were fully visible in the exhibition in a specially made display case housing the entire work. The Gallery
will display the print throughout the length of the Victorian Galleries in a free one-hour event on Thursday 18 June, (10-11am) to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo. This will be the first time the panorama will have been seen at full length at the Gallery.
The exhibition “Wellington:Triumphs, Politics and Passions” also examined his private life which was not as good as his soldier carrier. Born Arthur Wellesley (1st May 1769 – 14th September 1852), he was an Anglo-Irish soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of 19th-century Britain. He defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo the 18th June 1815, becoming an international military protagonist. During his excellent military carrier, Wellesley was involved in around 60 battles.
A native of Ireland belonging to the Protestant Ascendancy, Wellesley was the third son of Garret Wesley, 1st Earl of Mornington, a minor peer in the Irish aristocracy.
His first war experience was in Holland during the French Revolution Wars (1796). Then Wellesley was sent to India, where he fought Tipu Sultan and in Assaye. During this period he adopted the old family name Wellesley.
In 1805, he came back from India. Wellesley rose to prominence as a general during the Peninsular campaign (Spain) of the Napoleonic Wars, and was promoted to the rank of field marshal after leading the allied forces to victory against the French at the Battle of Vitoria (1813). Then in 1814, he served as the ambassador to France and was granted a dukedom.
In 1815, during the Hundred Days, Wellesley commanded the allied army which, together with a Prussian army under Blücher, defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.
Wellesley is celebrated for his adaptive battle defensive style, achieving many victories against a numerically superior force, while minimising his own losses. He is considered as one of the greatest defensive commanders of all time, and many of his tactics and battle plans are still studied today in military academies around the world.
Despite of being a triumphant soldier, his private life was a failure. He had a very unsatisfactory marriage, they almost separated. By the end of 1791, he met Kitty Pakenham, the daughter of Edward Pakenham, 2nd Baron Longford. In 1793, he sought her hand, but was rejected by her brother Thomas, Earl of Longford, who considered Wellington to be a young man in debt, with a very poor future. Distressed by the refusal, he burnt his violins in anger, and resolved to pursue a military career in earnest. Gaining further promotion (largely by purchasing his rank, which was common in the British Army at the time), he became a major.
In 1805, Wellesley returned from India, and now he was reconsidered for his new title and status; Kitty Pakenham’s family consented to the marriage. Wellesley and Kitty were married in Dublin on 10th April 1806.
The marriage did not work well and Kitty developed a depression, while Wellesley had a “vigorous sexual appetite” and was engaged in many amorous liaisons. He enjoyed the company of intellectual and gorgeous women for many decades, particularly after the Battle of Waterloo and his successive Ambassadorial position in Paris.
In 1831, Kitty died of cancer and apparently Wellington was greatly saddened. He had found consolation for his depressed marriage in his passionate friendship with the diarist Harriet Arbuthnot, wife of his colleague Charles. When she died of cholera in 1834, it was a great loss for both Wellington as her husband, so that the two spent their last years together at Aspley House.
Wellington relationship with his sons was often distant, because he was absent for much of their childhood. However, during his last years Wellington enjoyed his grandchildren. His eldest son became 2nd Duke of Wellington and chief mourner at his funeral.
After his active military career, Wellesley returned to politics for the Tory party. He was twice British Prime
Minister: from 1828 to 1830 and for a couple of weeks in 1834. He continued as one of the leading figures in the House of Lords until his retirement and remained Commander-in-Chief of the British Army until his death.
His commitments in politics found many obstacles. While in office, he was entangled with two main controversial political issues: the Catholic emancipation to remove the restrictions on Roman Catholics’ rights to participate to politics and the reform to revise the allocations of seats in the House of Commons.
For the first one, Wellington supervised the approval of the Catholic Relief Act 1829, but opposed to the Reform Act 1832. His position divided his party in two and alienated him from the extreme right wing. He also opposed to the reform of the Commons, but had an impressive loss of reputation. A main problem was that in the army, he was used to issuing orders, rather than seeking consensus, so was unable to manage the politics. His time at the office was a failure, and satirized by the caricaturists.
After his death, a re-evaluation of the life of Wellington took place, on the occasion of his sumptuous state funeral.
The exhibition “Wellington: Triumphs, Politics and Passions” was at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from 12th March until 7th June 2015.
“Sherlock Holmes” was a very interestingexhibition, at the Museum of London. Theexhibition at the Museum of London was part of the series of the relaunch of the Sherlock Holmes character, now in place for some years.
“Sherlock Holmes – the man who never lived and will never die” has made a significant deepening of the Londoner character created by Sir. A. Conan Doyle. It was the largest of its kind for over 60 years. Displayed materials were drawn from all over the world.
The exhibition “Sherlock Holmes” brought together many different objects, including a rare oil on canvas portrait of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle painted by Sidney Paget (1897), which has never been on public display in the UK; original pages from Edgar Allan Poe’s manuscript of The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) never before seen in the UK; the original manuscript of The Adventure of the Empty House (1903); original notebook of Conan Doyle were he started to write the first storylines; and the iconic Belstaff coat and the Derek Rose camel dressing gown worn by Benedict Cumberbatch, from the Sherlock BBC television series.
The show was captivating from the entrance, as it was beneath a false library. It was not difficult to guess, but gave immediately to the visitors the right and joyful atmosphere.
Sherlock Holmes is a global icon indelibly linked with London. Full of memorabilia, the Museum of London show proposed plenty of objects, with multimedia installations, many videos, books, original manuscripts, photos, postcards, footage, costumes, and all the paraphernalia of the most famous detective ever existed.
Detective Sherlock Holmes in a railway carriage with his companion Dr Watson. Original Artwork: Drawing from ‘Strand’ magazine in 1880. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images) exhibition at Museum of London
The first room, “The genesis of Sherlock Holmes”, gave an idea on how Holmes was conceived and structured at the beginning. On display from original manuscripts to the first copies of The Strand magazine in 1891, it examines how the consulting detective has evolved from Conan Doyle’s early concepts.
Here on show is the notebook used by Conan Doyle between 1885 and 1889 while he practised medicine in Southsea that contains the germ of a detective story. In the book (on loan from the private library of Dr Constantine Rossakis M.D.) he plots out an initial dramatic storyline of ‘The terrified woman rushing up to the cabman’. The title, ‘A Tangled Skein’, is crossed out and replaced with, ‘A Study in Scarlet’ – the name of his first Holmes novel.
The book is one of three that Conan Doyle used to sketch out ideas and meditations – not just confined to Holmes. In the exhibition it appeared alongside a separate page of notes, last on public display in the 1951 Festival of Britain, where Conan Doyle refers to “Sherrinford Holmes” and “Ormond Sacker”, who would later become Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. The page is on loan from the heirs of Anna Conan Doyle, and its literary significance is compounded by a handwritten note accompanying the page by his son, Adrian Conan Doyle. It reads: “very precious, the original page on which my father originated the name Sherlock Holmes and the opening scene of A Study in Scarlet.”
Blue Plaque Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221b Baker Street in London
Very fascinating were also the following sections “The London of Sherlock Holmes” and “Sherlock Holmes and the streets of London”. Here the point is Sherlock Holmes is probably the most famous Londoner – maybe a part from HM Queen Elizabeth II. The celebrity of the character was enhanced by the fame of the largest city of the world and capital of the biggest empire of that time – and vice versa.
The adventures of Sherlock Holmes were very often set in London, depicting a developed reality. Many people found it of significant, for the novelty of the issues, personalities and ideas. Holmes represented a new era, a society that was evolving into an industrialist dimension, where logic and reasoning took place of spontaneity and naturalness. In the late 1800s machinery, technology, and communication were changing the world. Conan Doyle gave his own contribution by proposing a new philosophy but also a different scientific approach which led to developments, for example of the forensic and crime investigation.
The Conan Doyle’s descriptions of the London environment were precise. The lives of the two bachelors, Holmes and Watson, dedicated to an innovative urban existence, engaged with a very original kind of job, were a new emerging life style.
The following room, “Fog and Sherlock Holmes”, focused on another common element in all the production of Sir A. Conan Doyle. Whether it is the countryside fog of Dartmoor or the city scenery of London, the fog has been a narrative element of Conan Doyle novels many times. His descriptions of the ‘London pea soup’ were so accurate to be used in the university to describe this particular phenomenon.
The next section, “Sherlock Holmes trains in the suburb”, was another major element that unites the detective and London. Holmes and Watson are often travelling using the new means of transport, such as hansom cab, tube, but above all the 19th century invention par excellence: the train. The new transports were able to quickly connect places, and mostly towns to the surrounding areas. The train has been, in fact, a significant progress that changed the world. The train represented a clear element of strong practical application of mathematic and engineering, so a new society that Holmes with his exasperation of the logic, once again well represented.
The penultimate room, “The many sides of Sherlock Holmes”, gave an idea of the multifaceted character; it can be a
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, from Sherlock, BBC series, exhibition Museum of London
bohemian and a gentleman, a genius and an addict, Holmes was a man of many sides. These contradictory features have been at the heart of the diverse incarnations of Holmes for more than a century. Sherlock Holmes is a bohemian, but also a strong logician. He is the quintessence of the logic, putting aside irrationality. However, he has many illogical aspects, for example he uses drugs, cocaine normally. He has a great scientific mind, he able to use a laboratory, and for example a finest connoisseur of tobacco and related substances, like the ashes. But Holmes seems to have no emotions, which is an irrational behaviour. Similar to Conan Doyle who was very involved in spiritism and was a Freemason, despite been a doctor and coming from a scientific background.
Last section, “The immortal Sherlock Holmes”, is focused on the heritage of Holmes, and gives idea of why this famous fictional character, which has never lived, probably will never die. It reflects on the longevity of the creation, who continues to be reinterpreted and adapted. Conan Doyle actually wanted to kill off Sherlock Holmes soon after he had created him. But the character continues to be re-imagined, and the pipe, magnifying glass, and deerstalker prevail today, as the unforgettable symbols of Sherlock Holmes.
Leading UK’s law firm, Shepherd and Wedderburn were the sponsors of the exhibition and the technology partner is NEC.
“Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die” exhibition was at the Museum of London from 17th October 2014 until 12th April 2015.