Showing posts with label V and A. Show all posts
Showing posts with label V and A. Show all posts

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Clara Button and the Magical Hat Day - the app

It’s A level results day – the moment that will decide the future of thousands of 18 year olds in the UK. If the youngsters get the results they’re after, many will be off to university in the autumn. If they don’t, they’ve got the agony of deciding what to do next – resitting their exams, looking for a job or perhaps taking a gap year.

Tensions have been running high in our house while all this has been going on – but I’ve found the perfect way to relax. Earlier this year I reviewed an enchanting picture book called Clara Button and the Magical Hat Day by Amy de la Haye and Emily Sutton. It’s the story of a little girl called Clara who visits the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to get her granny’s hat mended.

I adored the book when I read it so I was thrilled to discover that a digital edition has just been launched.

If anything, the app is even more stunning than the book. Emily Sutton’s gorgeous illustrations come exhilaratingly to life on the screen. When Clara’s big brother Ollie whizzes into the room on his skateboard, thousands of buttons go flying. And the red double-decker the children catch to the museum (past famous shops like Harrods and Fortnum & Mason) actually drives down the street.

Children can read the story themselves or listen aloud. Best of all, they can tap on drawings of famous pieces on show at the V&A, gaze at photographs and hear audio descriptions. My favourite exhibits are the sky-high Vivienne Westwood shoes that Naomi Campbell was wearing when she toppled off the catwalk in 1993. Did you know that they are made of fake crocodile skin and are a whopping 30cm tall? No wonder she fell over!

Clara Button and the Magical Hat Day for iPad (Mapp Editions for the Victoria and Albert Museum, £3.99)

PS. The paperback of Clara Button and the Magical Hat Day is published on August 30.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Annie Lennox at the V&A, The Hummingbird Bakery and ghosts that say "boo"

Goodness knows why, but I was once invited to be a guest on a local radio show. In amongst the chat about books, they played four of my favourite music tracks – like an inferior sort of Desert Island Discs, I suppose. Anyway, the first song I chose was the Annie Lennox number, No More I Love Yous, which I still adore.

The memory of sitting in that dungeon-like Leeds radio studio struck me forcibly this week when I went to the Annie Lennox exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The former Eurythmics star has helped to curate a collection of her work at the V&A – and it’s well worth a visit.

Over the years, Lennox has kept cuttings, ideas for lyrics, photographs and outfits galore, and loads of them are now on view at the exhibition. She’s always been feted for her bold, theatrical look and chameleon-like image so it’s fantastic to see some of her show-stopping costumes for real. Remember that amazing Union Jack suit she wore to the Brit Awards in 1999? It’s there, along with a stunning gold lamé corset and matching fingerless gloves she sported in the late 70s when she was lead singer of The Tourists, and many more.

Standing in the museum, with black and white videos of some of Lennox’s most famous performances playing on the screen above my head, I was impressed by how prolific she is. As well as her platinum discs, awards and humanitarian work, she’s even won an Oscar for best original song – for a track she wrote for Lord of the Rings: Return of the King with Fran Walsh and Howard Shore.

The best bit of the exhibition is a desk (below) showing snatches of Lennox’s work in progress. In amongst the pens, highlighters and scraps of paper, it’s inspiring to see notes of her most famous lyrics, all scrawled in capital letters. There are also a few of Lennox’s own books dotted around, an eclectic collection with The Art of Seduction alongside I Don’t Know She Does It, Allison Pearson’s novel about working mother Kate Reddy.

PS: For years, no trip to London has been complete without a trip to The Hummingbird Bakery. Everything about this bakery is gorgeous, from the exquisitely-decorated cakes to the chic pink and brown boxes they’re packaged in. With Halloween just around the corner, the South Kensington branch has excelled itself. The windows (above) are filled with cut-out paper pumpkins and the cakes come decorated with scary witches, broomsticks and ghosts that say "boo." I brought a spider's web cupcake home for my son and as you can imagine, it was gobbled up in double-quick time. The Hummingbird Bakery now has four shops - in Notting Hill, South Kensington, Soho and Spitalfields - and look out for their two gorgeous books too, The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Book and The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days.

The House of Annie Lennox is on at the V&A till February 26 next year (2012).

Friday, 7 October 2011

FRIDAY BOOK REVIEW - Clara Button and the Magical Hat Day by Amy de la Haye and Emily Sutton

I’ve got lots of happy memories of the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington – from interviewing the Oscar-winning screenwriter Colin Welland on the front steps (see below) to visiting a Kaffe Fassett exhibition with my great aunt and watching her inspect the back of every tapestry to check how neat the stitching was.

I wasn’t planning to include children’s books in my regular Friday Book Review feature but first I discovered it’s Children’s Book Week (till October 9) and then the delightful Clara Button and the Magical Hat Day thumped on to the door mat.

The first children’s book to be published by the V&A, it’s a delight from start to finish. Charmingly illustrated by Emily Sutton and written by London College of Fashion professor Amy de la Haye, it’s the story of a little girl called Clara Button. Clara loves drawing, making things and dressing up while her big brother Ollie is more interested in skateboarding and other action boy pursuits. When a precious hat that once belonged to their granny gets torn their mother takes them to the V&A to find out how to mend it.

The pictures of some of the delights on view at the V&A – including the famous sky-high Vivienne Westwood shoes that Naomi Campbell toppled off on the catwalk – made me want to hop on the bus and revisit the museum straight away.

Best of all, the book subtly makes it clear that there’s something for everyone at the V&A. While Clara is entranced by the hats and thinks the museum looks like a palace, the more sceptical Ollie is mesmerised by hunting swords used in battle and Tipu’s Tiger, a mechanical toy made in India in 1793 which shows a tiger attacking a life-size wooden soldier.

Clara Button and the Magical Hat Day by Amy de la Haye and Emily Sutton (V&A Publishing, £10.99)

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