This fascinating exhibition looks at how people over time have represented their religious beliefs. Christianity, Islam, Judaism are all represented, are as lesser-known and older religions from all corners of the globe. The exhibits are arranged by theme, with seemingly different artefacts displayed alongside one another as they are said to reflect similar aspects of belief. I particularly liked the inclusion of cheaper everyday items alongside valuable and unique artefacts.
The exhibition begins with the Lion Man, the oldest known figurative sculpture in the world that dates back 40,000 years. However, does it necessarily reflect religious belief as the exhibition claims? Regardless, it’s a fascinating talking point.
There is an impressive Judas-devil figure used in Mexican Day of the Dead processions. Masks from the Congo, Jewish prayer caps and Japanese phalluses linked with fertility prayers are among the varied items displayed. One of the most moving is a cross carved in 2014 from a wrecked refugee boat that carried 500 refugees; at least 360 are known to have drowned. Towards the end of the exhibition, we see how Communist regimes in China and Russia directed religious feeling towards the regime leaders and away from traditional religion. The exhibition is incredibly interesting and thought-provoking, and I’m glad I made the effort to go before it closed.
I wandered past the Twinings Tea Shop and Museum quite by chance on my day off; it’s located on the Strand, a busy street in the heart of London, and still retains its old-fashioned look. Inside, it sells more kinds of tea than you can shake a stick at: from black tea like good old English Breakfast and Earl Grey, to fruit teas and green teas, as well as rather more bizarre flavours like Salted Caramel Green Tea (not recommended). It’s possible to buy a Twinings-branded wooden box (like the kind you get in posh hotels) and fill it with teabags of your choice. I made a mental note of this for future reference.
The ‘museum’, which is right at the back of the narrow shop, has artefacts from Twinings rich history, which dates back 300 years, founded by Thomas Twining who helped to ensure tea became a rival drink to coffee which was then popular in London’s coffee houses. Tea’s popularity rose dramatically, and Twinings was later granted a royal warrant.
There is also a ‘tea bar’ where you can sample different varieties of tea.
The shop is a really worthwhile place to visit, whether you want to stock up on tea, look round the museum, or just sample a few different brews.
As a lifelong Winnie-the-Pooh fan, I was delighted to be able to visit the V&A‘s new exhibition, Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic. Themed around the world of the books, it welcomed visitors with a greeting and the themed decor made you really feel part of the Hundred Acre Wood. There was a slide and assorted activities for children – but I couldn’t help being glad that during my visit, on a Friday evening, there weren’t many kids around.
The exhibition began with a display of the various Pooh-themed toys, games and accessories that have been created over the years. I was particularly pleased to see a cuddly toy version of the Soviet Pooh, which I love, but was gutted to spy a gorgeous Cath Kidston dress that I obviously missed when it was in store.
The exhibition explored the writer, A. A. Milne, and the illustrator, E. H. Shepard, and the history of the Pooh stories. Particularly fascinating were the sections on how the two worked together to produce stories that seamlessly blended words and pictures, strongly appealing to little ones (as well as grown-ups like me!).
I found the exhibition completely fascinating, and it really reignited my love for Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends. (I’ve always felt a particular affinity for Piglet).