Power of Making at the V&A: exhibition review

The Power of Making celebrates the best of human imagination and creativity in craft: here's some of my favourite things I discovered, including an embroidered surgical implant and a baby created out of marzipan.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Power of Making V&A 2011-Elaine Colbert
A hyperrealistic baby doll created by Elaine Colbert for ‘adoption’.

Yesterday I went along to check out the new Power of Making exhibition at the V&A Porter Gallery in conjunction with the Crafts Council, which opens today. Curator Daniel Charny was on hand to give us a personal introduction, explaining that when putting together the show he looked for the best demonstration of knowledge for each skill on display. He aims to challenge preconceptions of what arts and craft can be, because ‘making is an active way of thinking‘ that needs to be better valued. Many of the objects on display demonstrate a strong link between science, technology and craft and he would love this relationship to be more widely recognised and utilised.

Here are some of the most interesting things I discovered.

Power of Making V&A 2011-david mach
King Silver Gorilla: made entirely from wire coat hangers by David Mach, this stunning sculpture greets visitors at the entrance to the exhibition.

Power of Making V&A 2011-Peter Butcher embroidered implant
Embroidered surgical implant: this snowflake shaped machine embroidery by Peter Butcher at Ellis Developments is designed to lie just under the skin, providing the surgeon with attachment points for replacing lost tissue.

Power of Making V&A 2011-Mirlande Constant
Beaded Haitian Vodou Flag: having learnt the skills from her mother Mirlande Constant quit her job in a wedding dress factory to make traditional flags.

Power of Making V&A 2011-Kane Kwei lion coffin
Carved wooden lion coffin: the family workshop of Kane Kwei in Ghana has been making sculpted coffins since the 1950s. Designed to reflect an individual’s job and aspirations traditional imagery often merges with contemporary culture: you can now be buried in a car or a branded trainer.

Power of Making V&A 2011-maker bot
The MakerBot: first discovered at a recent Future Human event, this is a small 3D printer designed for home use that extrudes lengths of plastic to create 3D objects.

Power of Making V&A 2011-kideville
Kideville 3D printed game: Also in the realm of new technology, the Kide 3D package uses advanced tools to create a game that simultaneously teaches children rapid-prototyping skills. Over the course of Power of Making children will make their own buildings to complete the 3D printed city.

Power of Making V&A 2011-Thorunn Arnadottir QR CODE
QR code beaded clothing: first discovered at this years graduate Royal College of Art exhibition, Thorunn Arnadottir mixes high technology and art in his Swarovski crystal beaded garments, which can be read by a smartphone.

Power of Making V&A 2011-David Kaleta
Lego frog dissection: David Kaleta‘s frog is very accurate, despite its unusual material construction.

Power of Making V&A 2011-Kathyrn Hinton
Digitally hammered silver bowls: Kathyrn Hinton‘s beautiful bowls are created at a distance that technology affords: a hammer hits a pad and the force of each blow on metal is recorded onscreen.

Power of Making V&A 2011-Jacquy Pfeiffer
Sugar sculpture: Corn syrup, sugar, water and lemon juice were boiled in exact proportions to create a glass-like substance that pastry chef Jacquy Pfeiffer manipulated into a dramatic sculpture (just out of shot, a tiger’s head).

Power of Making V&A 2011-Manel Torres
Spray on dress: Manel Torres developed Fabrican whilst studying fashion at the Royal College of Art and has since moved to Imperial College to work with materials scientists. New applications that are being considered include upholstery, bandages, and even spray on nappies.

Power of Making V&A 2011-Heleen Klopper
Moth hole mender: I don’t quite understand how this works but I want to use this now!!! Heleen Klopper developed Woolfiller to mend much loved old clothes – the fibre is placed over the hole and grabs onto the surrounding wool.

Power of Making V&A 2011-Michelle Wibowo
Marzipan and sugar baby: in an amazing burst of cake based creativity this hyperrealistic infant was made by Michelle Wibowo from edible ingredients.

There were many other intriguing objects to discover at this exhibition, many with extremely clever applications that take them beyond the realm of mere aesthetic frippery. The Power of Making is a fabulous testament to thoughtful creativity and will no doubt encourage many people to learn a new skill. I dare you not to be inspired! For more information and recommended events see my listing.

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One Response to “Power of Making at the V&A: exhibition review”

  1. Pomona says:

    I was at the preview yesterday too! And It’s interesting to see how we have highlighted different exhibits in our respective reviews.

    Pomona x

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