Friday, 5 February 2010


I went to London in December to look in the collections at the V&A and also the British Museum. I wanted to see if I could find the representation of dandelions in any of the objects on display.

I spent a whole day looking through the V&A collections: what a treat! I think I must have walked about 27 miles (and consequently came down with a severe case of 'gallery foot ').

I felt like I was on an expedition looking for specimens in an unlikely landscape.

I found a few dandelions in the collection - a tiny one on a medieval painting (no flower, just the leaves); one in bloom in the background of a huge tapestry; and the best was on a Japanese lacquered box.

The Japanese box was the jewel of my finds: it was getting towards the end of the day and I had scrutinised so many objects by then, and the two I'd already found were incidental background additions. The Japanese one was deliberate, beautiful and delicate. It was made by Ikeda Taishin and is a lacquered box for writing utensils dated 1870 - 1900. What a beautiful specimen and on a Japanese object too - it fits so well into my research so far.

I did take snapshots of the work, but I doubt I can post them on my blog - you'll just have to go on a trip and discover them for yourself.

While I was in London I was staying with my friend Neil. He studied at the V&A and he set up a meeting for me with Dr Christine Guth who works at the museum. Her particular field of study is Japanese design history so we had a lot to chat about and I had many questions for her. It was great to talk to her about the dandelion project and hear her thoughts and suggestions for reading material, people to contact and places to visit.

I was in London for a few days and on my return to Euston Station on the last day I decided to pop into the British Museum for a couple of hours. Obviously that's not even nearly enough time to explore the collection especially when its teaming with visitors (how inconvenient). So, I went straight to the Japanese collection. There on a vase, with two doves annoyingly blocking the view, was a pretty little dandelion! It is a vase by Namikawa Sosuke and made in around 1897. How exciting! No, really - I think that's exciting.

So my expedition to London went really well and I came away refreshed, inspired and with lots of stuff to think about.

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