Pink Floyd have sold over 250 million records worldwide since they were founded in 1965, so it only makes sense for such an epic band be recognised with an exhibition on a truly epic scale. The V&A have done just that with the current ‘Their Mortal Remains’ retrospective of the band, presenting an enormous archive of material, huge displays and large-scale installations, all accompanied by a legendary soundtrack! The exhibition takes you on a chronological journey from sixties London through to the present day via promotional posters and tickets, press images, backstage photographs, archived interviews and footage, band members’ original instruments and other ephemera. That said, there is a distinct focus on the 1970’s – arguably the bands’ creative apex – witnessing the release of ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’, ‘Wish You Were Here’, ‘Animals’ and ‘The Wall’ all in a six year period between 1973 and 1979. This period of ingenuity is recognised in the exhibition with full-scale reconstructions of Battersea Power Station accompanied by a floating pig and other inflatables commissioned by the band to accompany their tours of this era, as well as a huge reconstruction of ‘the wall’. The show then moves on to explore more contemporary incarnations; the 1980’s ‘Final Cut, 1990’s ‘Division Bell’ and final 2012 album ‘Endless River’ – and closes with a gig projected on all four walls of one enormous gallery space. As well as celebrating the music, it highlights the influence of other artistic mediums; from David Hockney and illustrator Peter Blake to animators Gerald Scarfe and Ian Eames. Moreover it emphasises the bands’ ambition to constantly challenge and create more imaginative live shows, as well as their collaboration with graphic designers Hipgnosis to create some of the most iconic album covers of all time. You’ll need to dedicate a good few hours to take the whole exhibition in, but I’d suggest making the time this summer before it closes in October.
An iconic legacy of 1960’s French Prime Minister George Pompidou and architectural anomaly created from glass and steel with suspended escalators and covered in coloured pipes (blue for air, green for water, yellow for electricity and red for passageways), The Pompidou Centre continues to be a thriving arts hub in the centre of Paris. With a permanent museum collection boasting works by Matisse, Picasso, Chagall and Cezane to name a few and host to over thirty temporary exhibitions on its gallery floor each year, I was fortunate enough to visit last week and view their ‘Magritte’ retrospective. The eccentric building feels like an apt home for surrealist Belgian artist Rene Magritte and the hundred or so paintings, drawings and documents collated in this exhibition. His intense interest in philosophy is palpable and evident throughout; from his infamous ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’ painting inspired by philosopher Michael Foucault’s 1973 publication of the same name to his constant use of motifs and symbolism. The exhibition is separated into five rooms each focusing on a different theme ranging from chance, to words and images, problems and solutions, the allegory of the cave, and curtains and illusionism. Stunning works including ‘The Philosopher’s Lamp’ featuring a portrait of a man whose nose morphs into a pipe alongside a candle melting in controlled swirling motions, ‘Hegel’s Holiday’ highlighting Margitte’s background in graphic design and advertising using the simple shape of an umbrella with a glass of water suspended at its apex, and my personal favourite ‘Decalomania’ showing the outline of a man in a suit and bowler hat against an optimistic background of a blue sky with clouds beautifully reflected next to the same mans’ silhouette yet this suit is transparent allowing you to see the sky through it. Ignore the daytime queues if you’re in Paris and head over in the evening to see this idiosyncratic show before it closes in January.
Vibrant colours (purples, oranges, pinks and blues), luxuriant materials (velvet, silk, felted wool and brushed cotton) and unusual techniques (ombre dying, shibori, toaster printing, passementerie and ikat) combine for an effective retrospective on British designer Marian Clayden. Using a combination of large-scale silk prints and finished garments hung on dummies, the Fashion and Textile Museum takes visitors on a chronological journey through the often overlooked designers’ career. Clayden studied art at Nottingham School of Art and taught at primary schools as well as exhibiting paintings in Harris Museum throughout the 1950’s before emigrating to Australia in 1962 where she began exploring dying techniques, despite only taking one short course in dying at college. The exhibition opens with impressive 1969 garments commissioned for the musical Hair (and produced in the kitchen!), following Clayden’s move to California and subsequent introduction to set and costume designer Nancy Potts. Things moved quickly and throughout the 1970’s Clayden participated in nine group exhibitions across America, Canada, Japan, Poland and back home in the UK. She also spent a year in Iran during this period, and the exhibition goes on to display ropes, hand dyed cotton and ripped silk influenced by her travels. The following decade saw the launch of Clayden Inc. which expanded to produce four collections each year, and the upstairs galleries showcase new print design techniques utilising clamps and a household sandwich toaster, as well as her constant experimentation with different materials. Throughout the exhibition, the accompanying text is accessible and explains complex techniques in simple terms, paralleling Clayden who despite creating high fashion garments for the likes of Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor and Sigourney Weaver was keen to share her skills and knowledge with everyone, and even produced educational tools for that purpose. Likewise, the layout and use of clothed dummies gives each piece space and allows visitors to appreciate the materials and techniques being celebrated.