The V&A's 26 Treasures is an object lesson in verse
Friday 17 September 2010
Of the many events taking place during this year's London Design Festival, one of the more unusual is 26 Treasures at the Victoria & Albert museum. From tomorrow until next Sunday, if you venture into the British Galleries, you will be greeted with a slightly more poetic display than you might expect. Twenty-six writers – including poets Andrew Motion and Maura Dooley – have been paired with an object from the gallery, writing and responding to it in 62 words.
So there's Motion waxing lyrical on the bust of Homer and Dooley on the Gough Looking Glass. Some writing, such as Andy Hayes' "Isaac with a Drinking Glass", based on the Mr No-Body drinking flask and about a heavy night on the town, is particularly witty; other pieces, like Fiona Thompson's, on the Doorcase Norfolk House Entrance veer into the strange (one line reads: "Will monkeys swipe at your hair as you walk through? Will they lob a pineapple grenade or cabbage rose at your head?").
All the writers involved are part of the 26 Collective, which aims to raise the profile of writing through various collaborations. "We like the idea of seeking out something that is very precious in itself and then expressing through writing how precious words can be as well," explains John Simmons, from the collective. "We wanted variety to show that there are different approaches. I like the ones that are funny; I like the ones that are sad; I like the ones that are a bit bizarre."
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