Wedi 7: Cold War Modern at V&A

This is my first foray into television and heck I think I like it.

I’ve been strong-armed by an alummi of my old high school into doing a piece to camera with her about this exhibition at the V&A. The programme is Wedi 7, an early evening magazine show on S4C, the welsh language fourth channel broadcast in Wales. Think ‘The One Show’ on BBC1. It’s in a similar vein but to my mind better with more content and a higher cultural quotient. Luckily I only have to panic for a few minutes of airtime and its pre-recorded so my blushes will remain firmly on the digital editing suite floor…

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The bully in question isn’t a thug at all, it’s a charming and über professional presenter called Nia Wyn Jones. Tall, eloquent and elegant she’s also a ridiculously talented blacksmith and three dimensional artist, working in metal and glass. She’s fashioned sculptures around the world for royalty both British and Middle Eastern and has had high profile commissions too numerous to mention. And I’m not just saying this because she bends most of the metal with her bare hands and magic.

savetheplanetSo we meet up on the steps of the V&A, needless to say I’ve over prepared. When something’s going out in your homeland you don’t really want to look like you haven’t a clue. Thankfully Nia and the crew have also done their homework. We’ve only got a limited amount of time to film inside as well as dancing around the wary gaze of our press minder from the museum.

Superman,-1968The exhibition itself is pretty good, if you haven’t done 20th Century history then its a bit of a crash course in post-war to early 70s. It’s only a sampler of all the topic areas, the arts – both fine and graphic, propaganda, space race, architecture, mass media, mass transit and fashion. You could fill a space ten times the galleries of the V&A and still have things you couldn’t display. It captures both the optimism of the post war vacuum and then the brooding storm-clouds of the Cold War. Heels banged on the tables of the United Nations, blockades of Berlin and Cuba, free love, Goldfinger, plastics, mass production, and mass ommunication and the emergence of the environmental movement. It’s more hit than miss, some things are fantastic and immersive though others assume a little bit more knowledge from the visitor than is fair to expect.

CWM bookThe exit is of course through the shop, thats the common path of course in your modern musum. Being recent history, there are plenty of nostalgia tinged knick-knacks, curios, posters and books to be had. Some collections and analysis of relevant media, others reprinted memories and ration books. The book of the exhibition is worth a look. You should know though that rather than being comprehensive. It’s also a bit academic and thus excludes some general readers.

The TV bit went ok. Yes its not as easy as it looks, and the Wedi 7 crew not only make it look easy but are very generous with their time and patience. I’d like to become good at it, it’s unusual for someone who spends time behind the scenes (after all you see my work a lot more than me) to be front and centre. I’m hoping I’ll be asked again, I learnt a lot and not just about the nature of Soviet architecture.

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