Wednesday 30 September 2020


My last visit to the V&A a few weeks ago was slightly lack-lustre; I was pleased to be back but it felt lifeless, only the ground floor open, no exhibitions, no buzz. This week - it was fabulous. And as someone who hates booking in advance - perversely, I'm never in the mood when the day comes - I was thrilled to be able to book my ticket for their Kimono exhibition only an hour before I needed to set out.  A spontaneous outing - how exciting is that!

And it was gorgeous ... one exquisite thing after another (and so much more enjoyable with hardly anyone there!) One of my favourites was a C19 summer kimono relating to a famous passage in Japanese literature when the hero comes to a bridge through the iris marshes and composes a poem of homesickness for his wife.

And this is for a young woman ... sparrows and bamboo in the snow. Apparently, to wash a kimono you have to unpick it, then stitch it together again - although I suppose if you can afford silken sparrows in the snow, you can afford a laundrymaid. 

This famous actor (C1805-10) famously wore a stage costume with a design spelling out the message 'I don't give a damn.' His fans rushed out to copy it - like C19 kimono punks. 

Frederick William Burton, 1873

And look how kimono caught on abroad ... I want one! That actual kimono survives and is in the exhibition.

And to end with some Japanese feminism c1890, this is Daydream of a Woman Giving a Speech (and making men listen!) I'm sure she'd have got on well with Mrs Pankhurst.


Vronni's Style Meanderings said...

When I was last at the V&A with my cousin we saw some wonderful kimonos. They can't have been part of the exhibition as it was pre lockdown, so this exhibition looks very exciting!

Mary said...

The exhibition was on briefly pre-lockdown, then it re-opened, Vronni. But I also remember seeing some on display in the Japan gallery. One of the nicer things about having galleries closed has been exploring corners of the museum I'd swear I've never ventured into before. I found myself looking at biscuit tins the other day; who knew?

Gina said...

I would love to visit again but not sure I can face travelling on the underground. Maybe I should consider taking the bus!

Mary said...

I'm finding the Tube better than the bus at the moment, Gina. Local buses are uncomfortably full since the schools went back - although it's much better in town than in the suburbs. I avoided the Tube for ages - of course, there wasn't much reason to go into town as everything was closed! - but as soon as I ventured back, I realised I'd been a wuss. Mask and gloves and lots of hand-washing!