V&A Late: Spoon, Knife, Fork

On the last Friday of the month, the V&A hosts a spectacular evening of learning, drinking and dancing. Imagine letting your hair down in the coolest museum atrium in the city after a long week at work, ice-cold beer in hand and cool music reverberating around Dale Chihuly's showstopping chandelier. It's pretty amazing - and best of all, it's free! When I discovered the January theme, I knew the revision would just have to wait til Saturday morning.

I studied history of art for two out of four years at university, and although my final dissertation was on the intersection between 19th century French poetry and painting, I really wanted to write on the point at which food becomes art (and vice versa). With a theme of 'Spoon, Knife, Fork', the V&A promised to explore the 'social politics of how we sit, how we consume and how we share'. I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into its invariably exciting programme of talks, installations and music.

Blanch and Shock constructing their 'Exploding Cake' installation in the Grand Entrance - one hundred gently swaying whisks filled with cakes, flowers, herbs and sauce, reminiscent of wind chimes or tintinnabulum in this temple of culture. 

DJs for the night Eat Your Own Ears put on an array of danceworthy music, all themed around food.

I'm pretty sure the woolly mammoth has been extinct longer than 220 years. Then again, maybe I'm just a philistine.

The 'De-Extinction Deli' - where gastronomy meets sci-fi fantasy, prompting us to think about which long-dead animals we'd like to bring back from the grave - and which we'd like to pop on the barbecue. Personally, I'd be quite interested in roast dodo. 

I was keen to go to the Eat Your Words experience in the National Art Library (which involved gustatory texts and ultimately edible paper) but sadly my bag was just a bit too large to take in with me; the other talk I was interested in, regarding the history of the museum cafe was absolutely packed by the time I rocked up. But luckily, this being the V&A, there's never a shortage of things to do and see!

I wound my way back downstairs to the ground floor galleries to explore the Far East collections - as good a way as any to pay homage to my ancestors in the run-up to Chinese New Year on the 8th February. Here are my favourite pieces:

A gilded silver jewellery box encrusted with a panoply of gems: turquoise, coral, lapis lazuli, beryl, and rubies. I'm sure this would have made a wealthy woman in Nepal very happy back in the 18th century. 

Padmapani, a 14th/15th century bodhisattva (also from Nepal) and bearer of the lotus, which you can see carved into the palm of his gilded copper hand. 

A highly regal-looking bodhisattva from the Jin Dynasty (1200 AD), hailing from Shanxi province.

An unfinished Buddhist votive stele from the Northern Qi Dynasty (about 550-577 AD). I thought the little faces emerging from the limestone were so characterful. 

A Qing Dynasty Imperial Dragon robe. The silk weave on this piece is marvellous, and this embroidered dragon is the epitome of fierce - I doubt even St. George would have stood a chance against this celestial beast. 

Thanks for a great night out, V&A - it was one that managed to be both edifying and edible! Can't wait for the next voyage of discovery. I'm particularly excited for the upcoming Botticelli Reimagined and Undressed exhibitions...

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