Tim Walker's love of all things V&A
Tim Walker is one of the world’s most inventive photographers and in his largest-ever exhibition, Tim Walker: Wonderful Things, he’s taking us on a tour of his ‘palace of dreams’ – the V&A. Its curator Susanna Brown tells us what to expect…
Running until 8 March 2020, Tim Walker: Wonderful Things celebrates his contribution to image-making over the last 25 years and the role that his love affair with the V&A’s collection plays in his creative process. Ten major new photographic projects featured are directly influenced by treasures found in the V&A’s collection. And in preparation for the exhibition, Walker met with the museum’s curators and conservators and scoured its 145 public galleries, scaled the roof of the 12-acre South Kensington site, and explored the labyrinth of Victorian passages below ground level. Excited? You should be.
Pieces that inspired him and the exhibition along the way include stained-glass windows, jewelled snuffboxes, erotic illustrations and a 50-metre-long photograph of the Bayeux Tapestry, the largest photograph in the museum’s collection.
Susanna Brown, Curator of Photographs at the V&A, said: “The major shows at the V&A are often several years in the making. Tim and I started talking about the possibility of an exhibition four years ago, but we’ve known each other a lot longer. When I joined the museum in 2008, one of the first acquisitions I made for the Photography Collection was a group of Tim’s pictures, and the V&A has been a source of inspiration to him since the start of his career. We were excited by the possibility of creating an exhibition that combined treasures from the museum’s own collection with Tim’s photographs. It’s a very different approach to previous exhibitions of his work, and one of the most ambitious photography exhibitions we’ve ever staged at the V&A.
“Back in 2017, Tim delved into the collections, meeting dozens of the experts who work at the museum and looking at thousands of artworks and artefacts, in a quest to find those ‘wonderful things’ that would spark his creativity. We knew right from the start that we wanted to produce a show that visitors would find magical. The brilliant Shona Heath has designed a space that is highly atmospheric and transportive, it’s like going on a journey through someone else’s dreams.”
Incorporating more than 300 items, including photographs, short films, photographic sets and props, scrapbooks and sketches, Heath’s design guides visitors through Walker’s enchanted world, starting with pictures from his previous projects and extracts from his Super 8 films, featuring beautifully crafted physical sets and awe-inspiring locations.
You’ll find countless famous faces too, including Sir David Attenborough, Peter Blake, David Hockney, Riz Ahmed, Björk, Timothée Chalamet, as well as Walker’s muses, Tilda Swinton, Lindsay Kemp, Kristen McMenamy, Kate Moss and Grayson Perry, and five projects devoted to the nude. Things then take a darker, more textural turn in 10 rooms dedicated to Walker’s new series of photographs inspired by the V&A.
Tim Walker: Wonderful Things runs until 8 March 2020.