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Violating Sanctions

An American Woman’s Listening Tour Through the Axis of Evil

The London Logs: I’m a Little Teapot at the V&A

The Author By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | August 28th, 2012 | Comments No Comments

Another surprise is the Victoria & Albert Museum (www.vam.ac.uk). Several people, surprised I hadn’t already checked it out, insisted I visit. I’d seen several larger-than-life displays for the special exhibition of evening gowns – not my cup of tea.100_0463.jpg

However, it is raining today and I wanted a really good meal, so I headed to my favorite foodie section of town: South Kensington. It was here I had throat soothing Tom Kha Kai soup during my first week, and delectable Spanish tapas a couple of weeks ago. Today, I sought out Italian to match the weather and had one of my most memorable Italian meals ever: pasta in a saffron sauce with wilted spinach, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts and shaved goat cheese. (£10.50, about $16 at Pierino at 37 Thurloe Place). Following my afternoon at the V&A, I’m noshing now on Polish potato pancakes with smoked salmon and sour cream at Gessler at Daquise, a restaurant at the end of the South Kensington courtyard with a view of the V&A dome. The chef came out himself and served my meal! (£9, about $14) Both restaurants are charming, comfortable for a single and allowed me to sit and write forever…100_0450.jpg

The V&A is an overwhelming romp through history and geography. I made the fortunate mistake of starting at the top floor and working my way down. The lower floor is a labyrinth of rooms representing art, sculpture and artifacts from Asia, the Middle East and Europe during the Middle Ages.100_0449.jpg
Floor 6, however, is just ceramics – 11 packed rooms of them from the first ceramics in the 800s to modern designs.

One workroom had a group of children absorbed in creating their own ceramic teapots. Very creative!100_0452.jpg

I didn’t know that ceramics first started in Iraq in the 9th century. I couldn’t help but wonder how many historical pieces were lost or destroyed when the Baghdad Museum was looted in the tumultuous weeks after the US-led invasion. My Jordanian press credential got me into the museum in July 2003. By then, it was every bit the chaotic aftermath of disaster: glass broken, display cases smashed beyond recognition, papers strewn. The man who toured me around had tears in his eyes.

Displays of ceramics represented every corner of the world. Mexico was represented by Tonalá, my favorite shopping haunt near where I live in Ajijic! Ceramics ranged from delicate porcelain teacups to 18th century stoves that are taller than me, like this one from Germany built in 1790, 100_0456.jpgand included art pieces like this sleeping child in a ceramic donkey mask.100_0455.jpg
Next floor down was glass, another medium started in the Middle East. Glass-blowing was started in Syro-Palestinian area in 50 BC. The displays included this breathtaking stair banister of glass columns.100_0458.jpg

I wormed my way through the iron works, 1800s British furnishings, stained glass, jewelry and silver. I moved pretty quickly through the silver; after all, once you’ve polished one piece of silver, haven’t you polished them all?

The V&A deserves a day or longer, certainly more than the 3 hours I allotted. Although it advertises a 6:00 pm closing, visitors are hustled out at 5:30. Museum is free.

I discovered a charming tea house called Cocomaya across from the V&A on Brompton Road.
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Category: London
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