Citizen Carl was invited along to the sketch Creative Talks episode ‘Let’s Talk about Music’, with the masterminds behind major exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum.

sketch Parlour

Photo: sketch Parlour

sketch is a long-loved food and art destination on the London scene. Naturally, we recommend it in Carl Goes London. The two Michelin star restaurant is tucked away in an 18th century townhouse, and is full of quirky design touches and hilarious artworks by David Shrigley. And let’s not even mention sketch’s bathroom facilities, which have to be seen to be believed…

The sketch Parlour is a cosy space usually filled with people enjoying a pre-meal aperitif or afternoon coffee. More recently, it’s become the location of sketch Creative Talks, where high fliers from London’s creative industries discuss topics with an equally creative crowd. These talks suit the vibe of sketch immaculately.

sketch Creative Talks

During the evening we visited, Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh from the V&A were there to discuss music. Geoffrey Marsh is the V&A Director of Theatre and Performance and the co-curator of the record breaking exhibition, David Bowie Is. Victoria Broackes is a V&A curator and a renowned music critic.

Their record-breaking David Bowie exhibition was understandably a topic of great interest during the evening’s discussion. Bowie was still alive when the exhibition was being conceptualised, and it wasn’t originally intended to be the V&A’s main exhibition at the time. It was a natural fit for the museum – the V&A has been collecting music, album covers and musician costumes since the 1970s. But Victoria Broakes explained there were also concerns about taking the exhibition on. Was there anything more to say about David Bowie, or had it all been said? Could you present a musician like Bowie in a museum environment without destroying the inherently creative subject matter?

“We said to each other, if we do this, it’s got to be an exhibition like we’ve never been to before.” – Victoria Broackes, V&A

Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh, V&A, sketch Creative Talks

Photo: Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh, V&A, sketch Creative Talks

David Bowie Is

They focused on the real value the V&A could bring to achieve an exhibition like this. They brought in cultural historians and a company called 59 Productions, who specialise in producing and integrating film and video elements into live performances. 59 Productions had never done an exhibition before, but the V&A curators felt it was important to bring in live performance designers so the exhibition became an immersive environment. As an interesting aside, mannequins even had to be specially sculpted for the exhibition, as no standard mannequins were small enough for the costumes fitting Bowie’s 26-inch waist. The team used his tailor’s notebook to craft them.

David Bowie Is exhibition at the V&A

Photo: David Bowie Is exhibition at the V&A

David Bowie Is became an exhibition about Bowie’s cultural significance, and how he interacted with creative disciplines. It was a resounding success: more than 1.5 million visitors came along, making it the most visited show in the museum’s 164 year history. Of these visitors, 37% had never been to the V&A before. Sennheiser headphones were programmed so the audio changed automatically as visitors wandered around; no fiddling with buttons required. Geoffrey Marsh also noticed how relaxed people felt at the exhibition. “Even regular museum-goers can feel uncomfortable and unsure how to behave [in a museum],” he notes. It’s another victory cementing the V&A’s leap of faith to commit to covering a music icon in such a refreshing way.

Pink Floyd at the V&A

Spurred on by their success, the V&A is moving on to a Pink Floyd exhibition. Victoria Broackes describes them as “pioneers of vision and sound”. Geoffrey Marsh says “they were global before globalisation” existed, given the sheer number of records they sold. The V&A team are working with Pink Floyd at a distance and Nick Mason is present at the V&A meetings.

sketch Creative Talks give fascinating insights into the work of creative scenesters in London and across the world. Check out the next sketch Creative Talks scheduled, which are free to attend but have limited space allocated on a first come, first served basis.

sketch Creative Talks

Websites: sketch Creative Talks and the V&A Museum


Carl Goes London

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