Entertainment & Arts

V&A to exhibit high street shops as works of art

Artist's impression of a section of the tower Image copyright Barnaby Barford
Image caption Artist's impression of a section of the tower

A six-metre high ceramic tower made up of bone china buildings depicting real-life London shops is to go on display at the V&A in September.

Artist Barnaby Barford cycled more than 1,000 miles, visiting every postcode in London to take pictures of shop fronts.

The photos are being turned into ceramic transfers and fired onto fine bone china individual shops.

It will be displayed in the museum's Medieval and Renaissance Galleries from 8 September to 1 November.

The tower will have derelict shops at the base and at the pinnacle, which will look more precarious, the most exclusive boutiques and galleries will be housed.

The artwork is described as a "monument to the British pastime of shopping" and the Tower "likens efforts to find fulfilment through consumerism with the biblical Tower of Babel's attempt to reach heaven".

Image copyright Barnaby Barford
Image caption Each building measures 10-13 cm tall will depict a real London shop

Describing the installation, Barford said: "This is London in all its retail glory, our city in the beginning of the 21st Century and I'm asking, how does it make you feel?"

The V&A is also making the buildings available to purchase "blurring the lines of art and commerce".

Alun Graves from the V&A called the work "part-sculpture, part-shop display, The Tower of Babel is an act of curated commerce".

"It's about retail as a pastime, and the idea of shopping as a means (or not) to attain happiness. It is about how we identify ourselves as consumers and how we construct our sense of self through the choices we make when buying.

"Ultimately it's about who we are, and where we position ourselves in the extraordinary metropolis that is London."

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