Fashioned from Nature: V & A Museum, London

On the hottest day on record, I walked to the V & A Museum from who knows where, trying to stay in any scrap of shade along the way, Citymapper in one very sweaty hand, and pulling a travel bag in the other.

I decided on this exhibition because I thought there would be some pertinent ideas for my 2 days of OCA study “The environment and art”.

Curator: Edwina Ehrman

Venue: Apart from it being excessively hot despite all the electric fans, the exhibits had a lot of space around them so regardless of the numbers of visitors, it was easy to get from one stand to another.

Examples of exhibits:

Textiles are designed from nature.
Creating dyes from natural products reducing water pollution.
One size fits all reduces the amount of stock stores keep.
Branching out = title of the piece.

Highlights:  The emphasis was on sustainable fashion and focused on the environment, recycling, reusing, refashioning clothes instead of dumping them in landfill sites.  It is quite topical today as the fashion house Burberry hit the headlines last week because it burned £28.6m worth of clothes last year to protect its brand. Stella McCartney, one of the main exhibitors in the exhibition, said in an interview what she says in the exhibition, that we should be buying more responsibly, investing in items of clothing rather than buying them for 1 or 2 uses before we throw them to landfill.


What I took away with me about the exhibition:

There was a lot of repetition, almost to the point where it became a mantra, about sustainable fashion – now that all the fashion houses have made their millions from built-in obsolescence in the fashion industry.  It being an industry, fashion has to have a revenue or it will cease to exist.   As such, it was a bit like Nick’s solution to the current climate change crisis which I was to hear on Saturday, and that the answer is to return to the ideals of an agrarian society.  He could only say that because he, an economist-diplomat, still enjoys the trappings of a neo-colonialism and enough money behind him to see him through his writer-in-residence year off.   In this exhibition, we are told to mend our own clothes, now that needlework is off the school curriculum and now that instant, single-use clothes have been the making of major high-street shops.  We also see in the press that the charity shops have been selling their unwanted second-hand clothes to third world countries but that now, those same countries are refusing to buy them.

What I took away from the exhibition about me:

I thought that what the exhibition was about did not affect me as I do not often buy clothes & I certainly do not buy clothes for the sake of buying them – I wear the same clothes until the fraying becomes too obvious.  When I came back home I looked through my wardrobe and found that, yes, I do wear the same clothes, but I also found that there are a lot of clothes I have not worn for years – what shall I do with them?  Cut out the useable parts and make different items from the pieces?  Shall I throw away those that are too frayed to make anything new from them?


I was very pleased with the one link I made between the natural dyes promoted in the fashion exhibition and the dye I made myself two days later in the botanical institute.  With the dye I made some prints.  What shall I do with the prints?

Next steps:

Develop the links between nature and my extended BoW via the dyes, somehow.






2 thoughts on “Fashioned from Nature: V & A Museum, London

  1. Great that you’ve put some common-sense into this and pointed out the disparity between ideals and current reality.
    Yes – I think developing dyes could be a good way to go. Also, have you got the book “Anthotypes” by Malin Fabbri. It’s not thick and good to read. You could try using blackberries as a dye. I’m intending to once the wild ones our way have actually ripened.


    1. No, I have not read the book – will have to investigate. I have had to freeze 1kg of blackberries as we have such a lot of them this year – instead of digging up all the plants that spring up from nowhere, I decided to cultivate some this year so we don’t have to go far to get a crop!


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