Highlights from the wonderful world of Tim Walker’s new V&A exhibition

Radhika Nair, Pershore, Worcester, 2018, © Tim Walker Studio

Wonderful Things, the latest exhibition at London’s V&A museum, offers an immersive look at the fantastical work of British photographer Tim Walker, and includes 10 new series of photos influenced by the V&A’s collections, with corresponding explanations from the artist.

“Each shoot is a total love letter to an object from the V&A, sometimes several objects,” explains Walker. “My relationship to objects is like falling in love with someone. It relates to how we interact as people, how you become best friends with someone. It’s a search for a new friend.”

WGSN’s Head of Colour, Jane Boddy, rounds up the highlights from the show, which offers plenty of inspiration for colours and concepts.

Heart of glass

Tim Walker: Wonderful Things at the V&A, London – Illuminations section

The Illuminations section features photos inspired by the V&A’s glass collection, and sits alongside objects dating from 1520-30, with a focus on rich primary colours.

Tim Walker says: “The stained glass gallery is like a slideshow of glorious colours. There’s something special for me about transparent colour and I have an immediate emotional response to colour. With red for example – there are many different reds, but there’s something different about illuminated red, a red lightbulb, that really resonates with me.”

A love letter to South Asia

The Cloud 9 section was inspired by the V&A’s Asian archives, and was one of the most vibrantly coloured highlights from the exhibition.

Zo, Kiran Kandola, Firpal, Yusuf, Ravyanshi Mehta, Jeenu Mahadevan, Chawntell Kulkami, Radhika Nair, Pershore, Worcestershire, 2018, © Tim Walker Studio

Tim Walker says: “As I looked at the historic paintings from South Asia I was reminded of how I felt when I was in India. It’s probably my favourite country and one of the reasons I love it so much is the vibrant representation of colour. In these photographs, we wanted to evoke that richness and energy, the magical and enchanted quality. We were lucky that England had a heatwave and the light was like nothing we had ever seen before in England.”

Dragon’s den

Tim Walker: Wonderful Things at the V&A, London – Lil’ Dragon section

The Lil’ Dragon section captured a dark and decadent mood with a side order of bizarre, which feels right on trend for where colour and fashion are heading right now – think iridescent jewel tones set against a dark backdrop, illuminated with UV lights. The make-up for the photos was created by Berlin-based drag artist Hungry, and the original inspiration came from a tiny snuff box in the V&A’s collection.

Snuff box, lacquer panels, c. 1745, gold mounts about 1800 (detail) © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Tim Walker says: “As soon as I saw this tiny object, I could see the story of an emperor or an empress, walking their pet dragon at night time and picking a flower that only blooms at full moon . We turned that into two empresses, two queens.”

– Tim Walker: Wonderful Things is at the V&A until 8th March 2020

– Follow Jane Boddy on Instagram to see more of what’s inspiring her: @jane_boddy

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