My jaded exhibition palate had a couple of pleasant surprises recently. A small exhibition of Galt Toys down a trendy side street in East London. And a big exhibition on the Bauhaus in the Barbican. I expected to like the first; I was unexpectedly blown over by the second.
I grew up on a toy diet of Galt Toys. My Galt Post Office was very well used and probably explains a lot about my approach to book keeping as a freelancer. I had a very tattered box of Connect and an equally tattered Remember, remember with lovely Kenneth Townsend illustrations. It’s only in later life I put the name Ken Garland to the design of these toys and their packaging.
A small exhibition at the Kemistry Gallery recently put all of these on show. And more. And they let you play with them. And photograph them. Both a bit of a rarity these days. The exhibitions at Kemistry are always a bit random, Blu-Tak and slap-dash. Or as we call it these days: pop-up. But this one more than made up for that in quality of exhibit. Most of the stuff was from Ken Garland’s own shelves. Very nice to see it all, too. And they produced a wee booklet about the toys, designed by Ken. A nice touch and one that came home with me, of course.
The Bauhaus exhibition, currently on at the Barbican, is a cracker. Old skool exhibitionism. With a bit of everything the Bauhaus did, but not too much of any one thing. So: textiles, toys, puppets, pots, ephemera..as far as the eye could see. The designers of the exhibition Carmody Groarke have got it spot on with dealing with that difficult space. And there was a nice nod to German modernism in the exhibition graphics by A Practice for Everyday Life, particularly the blown up B&W imagery.
The exhibition was curated by the Bauhaus Archiv in Berlin, which I visited last year because it had an Erik Spiekermann exhibition on. You can tell someone who knows their stuff curated this. But they didn’t over-egg on the specialist knowledge front. So you just immerse yourself in nice things, get a smattering of the background to the movement and a juicy catalogue to find out more. Renewed my faith in exhibitions, so it did.