The V&A; may be congratulating itself on the wonderful show Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones which has just opened but you can find hats in less busy places, places you didn’t expect to find them – the Science Museum, for instance.
I pass this scene most weeks, whilst working alongside the venerable Shipping Gallery in the museum. It is one of my favourite galleries, full of cases of model ships. All kinds of ships and ‘sailing craft’ from all over the world. The models and their backdrops are beautiful – crafted by different hands, some good, some great and some just surreal. But they all repay close examination for anyone with an interest in things museological and display.
I love the Barbie quality of this particular model Pedalo scene. Actually, it’s Barbie and Ken. Dressed in summer casuals for a leisurely pedal past Brighton Pier. The expressions on their faces suggesting a discussion on the merits of a post-pedal ice cream, over a cool G&T; with a slice.
Although tiny, (to a scale of 1:8) I have always loved the straw hat she is wearing. It is a bit of Spain in Brighton. It’s doing nothing to keep off the sun, merely acting as an accent to her outfit and being great to look at, as a good hat should be.
What is really satisfying is that the museum case still has the original label and it credits the person responsible for making these models, way back in 1959 – a Miss B.M.Campbell. Both the figures and the Pedalo were made in the museum workshops, which are still going strong in the basement. They smell of sawdust, machine oil and history.