There are places
that will keep giving you something,
as you come back for more.
There are places
that are more,
than what you will find anywhere else,
more than what you knew to look for,
treasures, carefully collected
for you to find them here,
for you to find them today.
Of all days,
there are places
that will give you a home,
a connection not only to this place
but to all those that came before,
left traces of themselves
in rooms full of sculptures
and on walls hung with images, these mirrors of the past.
Please do not touch,
it says on signs
but it is not how I feel,
I feel all of this is mine
There are certain places in the world and in London that I always find myself coming back to. They mean something to me because I have discovered them on my own, by wandering the streets and turning an unkown corner or by accidently stumbling upon a mention of them that have made me seek them out.
The Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington is one of those places. I know the distinct smell of that building so well that the minute I walk through the glass doors from the underground tunnel I recognize it. I recognize it as home, as my place.
My first visit to the museum was with my mum at her suggestion, when she came to visit me for the very first time after I had moved to England. I had never come there as a tourist. I still remember the photographs I saw in the Photographer’s Gallery that day and how we talked about the jewellery techniques used in the pieces shining behind the glass cases.
My second visit was with my university lecturer and my classmates from my “19th century art in London” class. We talked about photography that day and I discovered Eugene Atget’s haunting images of the old streets of Paris.
I have been there so many times now that I no longer count. I have gone there to meet other like-minded young people to meet artists and designers, to talk about art and be inspired. I have been there to volunteer, to learn how to be a good tour guide and to take part in the planning of events for other young people.
As much as I love the Rodin statues, the photography collections and the graphic prints, I love the museum for what it stands for; a free, public museum meant to inspire anyone who wishes to come in through its doors.
I know it has inspired me. It made me discover Atget, cyanotype prints, photogram making, photography history, art nouveau graphic art and jewellery, asian wall hangings and wrought-iron craft. It has made me see the connections between all the art and design forms, how they have influenced each other and how one art form can rouse another; it has made me see connections that I hadn’t noticed in my own work before. Like how I don’t have to choose between writing or photography but like William Morris choose to do it all and try to be equally good at it. To put them next to each other and say that they deserve to share the same space.