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Thursday, 9 February 2017

V&A Launch: Lockwood Kipling

It may have taken a fair few years but finally the Ministry of Curiosity has made it to a V&A launch party! The launch of Lockwood Kipling opening was not as debauched as the rumours from the Alexander McQueen show but nonetheless it was a full on cocktail-swigging-canapé-eating opening in the grand entrance of the beautifully lit V&A!

Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab is the first exhibition of many events, displays and celebrations of the relationship and bilateral exchange between UK and India marking 70 years since partition and lead by the British Council.  With a vast South Asian collection, the 2015 India festival and Fabric of India exhibition the V&A is a key player in this year of festivities. The Kipling exhibition is yet another way to showcase the exchanges between the countries and solidify the museum’s leading collection.

But who was Lockwood Kipling? He was a key cultural asset in British India through his work as an art teacher, illustrator and museum curator. As Principal of the Mayo School of Arts, Lahore he was influential in the commercial influence of crafts, promoting indigenous artist through apprentices and campaigning through the publication ‘The Journal of Indian Art.’
The exhibition explores how the Great Exhibition of 1851 influenced Lockwood Kipling himself and the V&A founded their collection as the South Kensington Museum on the fair. With a number of objects from the 1851 exhibition displayed alongside a beautiful print from the Queen’s collection showcasing the India gallery. 
The Great Exhibition: India no. 4, by Joseph Nash, about 1851. Royal Collection Trust. © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2016

The influence of the Great Exhibition reached far and wide and later similar fairs were shown across the world and between 1865 and 1900 Lockwood organised and curatored the Indian displays at 28 international fairs from Glasgow to Melbourne his passion for Indian arts and craft went beyond the relationship he represented in Britain and India.
But of course, Lockwood Kipling was more than his influential career. He was father to Rudyard Kipling (Yep Jungle Book!) and his personal relationships are exposed through his illustrations for his sons book and my favourite object in the exhibition is the Confessions book, belonging to his wife Alice’s sister in which asked for his ideas of happiness he wrote ‘ a ripe mango in the bath with a cigar’

The V&A at night 

Lockwood Kipling is a great start to the UK-India year of culture and I certainly enjoyed the whisky sours and tandoori monkfish  at the opening  but I’m hoping that the year of culture brings out some more controversial and less imperialistic interpretations of the relationships between the countries.  

The exhibition is open until April 2nd 2017. 

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