Friday, December 16, 2011

London Retrospective llI: The Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood

For many years I’ve wanted to visit the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood, a branch of the Victoria and Albert Museum. But with so much on in London, and insufficient time to experience but a fraction of it on any one visit, this somehow got put off until the next time, and the next... It’s hard enough simply trying to reconnect with all the places you already know and love. And so the decades passed.

Now that I’ve finally made it there and discovered what a magical place it is, I’m trying to convince myself that it’s a case of better late than never, rather than berating myself for not going years earlier. Please indulge my lack of restraint regarding the number of pictures. Believe it or not, I did several edits; I could have posted dozens more.

Also on view was a temporary exhibit, My Giant Colouring Book, a suite of etchings by Jake and Dinos Chapman. To see a selection of the works, visit Moth Woman Press HERE.

(Pictured above: Quote by Carl Jung on Bethnal Green Museum blind. Click on image to enlarge.) The museum's website can be viewed HERE.

Pictured above:

Images 1 and 2: Exterior and interior views of the museum
Image 3: A Praxinoscope
Image 4: My companions Bev Murray and Shane Jones pose with Robbie the Robot
Image 5: Victorian clockwork monkeys
Image 6: 19th century Pantins (Jumping Jacks)
Image 7: Struwwelpeter Jumping Jack, 1983
Images 8-9: Marionette puppets
Image 10: Background: marionnetes; foreground: Charlie Chaplin Jumping Jack
Image 11: Display case including Oriental dolls and silhouettes
Image 12: Detail from above: silhouettes with moving parts by German animation pioneer Lotte Reiniger; used in her film Papageno, 1935, based on Mozart’s The Magic Flute
Image 13: A selection of rag books, 1910-72 
Image 14: One of many spectacular dolls houses that were on display
Image 15: The Royal Punch and Judy Show
Image 16: Punch and Judy detail
Image 17: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by John Tenniel, 1885 edition, with Mad Hatter’s Tea Party playset, 1900-20
Image 18: Elder Mother Tree, 1932 by Arthur Rackham, watercolour illustration (from Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales)
Image 19: Victorian novelty cards
Image 20: The glove puppet-magician Sooty and assorted magic tricks
Image 21: More magic tricks, including Der Kleiner Zauberer (The Little Conjurer) c 1910 and Maskelyne’s Mysteries, 1950-59
Image 22: Theatrical posters. Note the central poster advertising the magic act of Cleopatra, c 1900-30. To quote the museum’s label: A woman’s role in the world of magic is usually confined to that of assistant but there have been women magicians in their own right. These were usually magician’s wives, such as Adelaide Herrmann, The Queen of Magic, or daughters, such as Ionia The Enchantress. Cleopatra  was probably French but is something of a mystery. Far right: photograph of Tommy Cooper.