Winged tiara; crystal and chalcedony set in gold; by Henry Wilson; English; c. 1908 (c) V&A
I am exhausted and CROSS. My back is really hurting and the ibuprofen I've been prescribed for it is giving me acid which is making me gag. So I'm shovelling Rennies down me too. My feet hurt and my excema has given me splits and cracks all over my hands, which makes washing, picking things up and doing crazy stuff like eating salted crisps real fun. I really wasn't in the mood to be navigating the V&A Museum.
The V&A is a treasure house of WONDERFUL things. I know and appreciate this fact. I was there today for the launch of a fantastic exhibition, which I'll talk about later. But having stood for two hours already (note to press office: please provide chairs) it was perhaps unwise of me to attempt to find other far-flung parts of the building - particularly the Jewellery Gallery.
First, you have to spend some time with the not-entirely-intuitive V&A visitors map - this eventually reveals that you need to be on the 3rd floor. So, let's find a staircase or a lift. BUT: it's not that simple. Not all staircases go to all floors. After some hiking about (and a stop-off at the Fashion Gallery to look at the wonderful Ossie Clark display) I eventually I found one, and ascended. Now in Decorative Ironwork, I walked the length of the building again trying to find Jewellery, only to find that the bit of 3rd floor I was on isn't connected to the bit of 3rd floor I was after.
So, downstairs, along a bit and upstairs again... down the side of the building, through Textiles and... Jewellery! But there are steel barriers stopping you going in from one direction - I only found this out after being watched trying to get in by a silent gallery steward. When I turned to her questioningly she just said, 'You have to go in the other end.' So back through Textiles and at last, I got there.
And it was worth it. It's a stunning collection - jewels you'll not believe exist. Expensive stuff, ancient stuff and even modern costume jewellery. Intricate, inventive, breathtaking... I need to learn some metalwork skills!
And I did get a little nostalgic over all. Walking through Fashion, picking my way through crowds of students sitting on the floor, drawing the same dresses I'd drawn ten years previously. Sniffing the air in Textiles - dust, carpets, old lace. Spotting old friends in Jewellery - the Slim Barrett tiara, the earrings made from pencil shavings - and remembering how over-the-top I was about recording allmost every item in my sketchbook - afraid of missing something which might prove important for college. These days I'm more selective, or just have less patience. But am still unavoidably drawn to sparkly things...