Design Competition: Exhibition Research

Our group is made up of students from the Ellipsis studio so we chose to look at an exhibition focused on publication. It definitely taught us a lot even if it wasn’t what to do..

The Artful Book exhibition while interesting didn’t really have what I would describe as it’s own identity and I found it fit almost too perfectly into the space. So much so it’s almost invisible. As it is a collaboration between the Folio Society and the V&A I thought that there would have been equal input from both parties. However, as it was a display on the National Art Library’s landing space it strictly followed the identity of the V&A. For example all text used the V&A Sans Typeface in grey along with a cream background, which is used throughout the museum.

Other than the actual pieces of work on display there are no visual elements to the exhibit. I felt that there was opportunity for the main banner, which welcomes you into the space, to actually have some of the book illustration on it. This would show you what the space had to offer and quite bluntly it wouldn’t look like a dusty extension of the library space.  

As it was a small space, there wasn’t really a need to guide you around the area as what you could see was nearly all that was there. However there was a small reading area which had books published by the Folio Society which I found by mistake, so there was a need for guidance. I thought that between the lack of guidance and the fact it wasn’t on the map of the museum it didn’t feel like the V&A wanted any of the public to know the exhibit was on show which is sad because there were some beautiful pieces on show.  

The work itself was either in glass boxes or mounted on the walls. Pieces on the walls worked really well as they were illustrative; I think the frames and in a glass box was a bit of overkill. Captions for the work in the boxes were all centralised in the corner of the box and the pieces weren’t numbered so other than the label for a Quentin Blake illustration I didn’t actually understand which label paired with each piece of work.

Considering this exhibition is up between September 2017 and January 2018 there was nothing representing it. Whether that was a handout, or something in the bookshop or gift shop of the V&A. I found it unusual that there wasn’t even a postcard. The book illustrations in the exhibit lend themselves perfecting to things like that, however with that being said it was such an odd exhibition space that it doesn’t completely surprise me that there wasn’t even a handout for it. Even the map which is updated each season has no evidence that the exhibition exists!

Overall the exhibition worked as a ‘not what to do’ in exhibition curation. It made me more aware of the journey to get into a space and how important the guidance is. Whereas before my mind was more focused on the displaying of our work for the Summer Show.  

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