An exhibition exploring how Kipling senior forged historic links between the museum and India.
The Victoria and Albert Museum has struck a rich seam of popular exhibition making, with their record-breaking Bowie show, the forthcoming extravaganza dedicated to Pink Floyd and even a curious little show about Annie Lennox.
Here the venerable institution gets back to its traditional roots with a show about the life of one of their founders. Lockwood Kipling not only shaped the original collection, he helped decorate the South Kensington building (with terracotta sculpture) and can be seen now in a permanent mosaic by the Museum’s John Madejski garden.
He had loved Indian handiwork since his first encounter with examples at the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace. The year was 1851 and Kipling was still a teenager. So after his stint in London’s foremost museum of arts and crafts, Kipling went in search of the art and craft of Bombay (now Mumbai) and Lahore.
By sending back so many artefacts and many of his own drawings, together with architectural studies and casts, Kipling ensured his legacy within the museum world. But to those of us not steeped in the history of the V&A, the original draw for this historically fascinating show may be more closely related to Lockwood’s famous son.
For those who don’t already know, the son he fathered in 1865 was named Rudyard. Among the most appealing objects in the show will be the early editions of Kim and the Jungle Book, written of course by Kipling Junior and illustrated by Kipling Senior.