Tim Walker: Wonderful Things ★★★★★ Victoria & Albert Museum | Until March 8, 2020


Full disclosure: we absolutely loved this exhibition! Much of it is a collaboration between Tim Walker, his team and the V&A, and it represents his passionate responses to the Museum’s collections. The show also reflects his exposure, early in his career, to Cecil Beaton’s work. Original artifacts are shown alongside the projects that they inspired. Short films, sets, scrapbooks and sketches are also included. Ten evocative and intimate ‘room sets’ have been created for these new works, and it feels like quite a journey as we move from a glossy white space (fashion magazine work and celebrity portraits) to darker settings including a burned-out cathedral! Later on a vibrant yellow room suggests a grand country house. The Bayeux Tapestry is re-created, using amusingly amateurish costumes and props. Tilda Swinton channels Edith Sitwell. Gay, homoerotic or gender-fluid characters strike a pose. Our ideas of beauty are continuously challenged. And even in the fashion photography, Walker's approach involves a visual storytelling that blurs fantasy and reality to create lavish, surreal or touching pictures. Occasionally the pieces work less well: the Aubrey Beardsley-based ‘Pen & Ink’ series may appear a little heavy-handed alongside the original illustrations. But, Walker’s inventiveness and positivity are so uplifting. These are indeed ‘Wonderful Things.'

Reviewed by A.L.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆☆ 

WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until March 8, 2020
Sat - Thu: 10 am - 5:45 pm
Fri: 10 am - 10 pm
Victoria & Albert Museum
Nearest tube: South Kensington
https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/tim-walker

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