On Sunday, we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum to see the 1:1 – Architects Build Small Spaces exhibition. Dudelet whined and moaned and dragged his feet about leaving the house, little elf threw a tantrum because she couldn’t scoot all the way to South Kensington from Balham but we perservered and dragged them down to the station where we bribed them with Hula Hoops, Quavers and the abolition of Doctor Who to actually get on the train.
The exhibits were spell-binding and we were there early enough to walk straight into each one without queuing.
- A tree house made out of woven trees patterned like the interlocking ribs of a huge beast by the side of the pool in the John Medejski garden.
- A three story wooden frame with walls constructed out of books that wobbled and breathed “library”.
- A tea house from the best Japanese fairy stories built in a tree – indoors.
- A sliver-thin space transplanted from Mumbai existing between buildings – a ghost of a ghost of a house that held a family of eight.
- A hut shaped like a lean-to open at both ends and whispering “outdoors”.
- A steel tower hung with red velvet and unexpected clear perspex panels opening onto sheer drops that told the story of twelve princesses.
- A set of coordinates and cable ties in space.
Dudelet began to grudgingly enjoy himself by house three and little elf was delighted with everything (well, she’s two and a half). I wanted to be an architect by house five.
Then we went to the Glass Gallery by accident and little elf ran up and down the mezzanine balcony there whilst supermum tried to get her to come down and dudelet played with the online catalogue. He was fascinated by a squared-off piece of glass set in a cube of dark wood and coloured with embedded ovoids and pseudopods of purple, red and green. Eventually, we tracked it down on the computer and he was happy. Little elf stopped at the top of the mezzanine stairs and waited for me to come and help her down whilst two women waited at the bottom. She looked at them and smiled and pointed at me.
“My daddy,” she said proudly.
I had a ‘King of the World’ moment.
On the way to lunch, we paused outside the tower of books where a man was singing a sad song in spanish. Then a tall Chinese man thanked him and began to read from a book of poems in Mandarin. It was none other than the great Yang Lian. There was another song and gorgeous and understanding supermum whisked the children off to the V&A cafe whilst I heard the last two poems for which Yang Lian’s translator Brian Holton read both English versions and a section of his thunderous rendition of Yang Lian into lowlands Scots. I then had a complete fanboy “squeeeeee!” moment and doubtlessly gushed horribly to the poet and his beautiful and gracious wife.
After lunch, we went to a family music workshop where dudelet made a diagram of a music room and little elf a) made a Music Hat that she later wore to bed and b) drew her first recognisable self-portrait.
We even survived a trip to the museum shop with a united front.
Did I mention it was Fathers’ Day? How weird was that?