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Objects in Translation

Edited by Hannah Lee

 

Adopting the heading of a previous Un-Making Things column, Objects in Translation aims to explore the dynamics of global cultural exchange in a design historical context. Spanning both chronology and geography, I aim to draw article inspiration not only from the period of my own research interests as an Early Modernist, but also from the contemporary.  This might range from a study of the current state of the traditional Venetian glass industry in the face of Chinese competition; to a comparison of the North Korean display of diplomatic gifts with Early Modern European Court practices.

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The Hidden Consumer?

Hannah Lee & Jo Tierney   The following text is an extract from a discussion between two students from the V&A/RCA History of Design programme who, from different starting points, have found common issues arising from their research into trade interactions between Europe and Africa and the development of the idea of the hidden consumer,

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Set in Stone: A Seventeenth Century Water Flask and the Imitation of Nature in Early Modern Europe

Hannah Lee   Swirls of white break the surface of this seemingly simple water flask, housed within the British galleries of the V&A. Made from eathernware the museum’s online catalogue informs us that this was an instance of when ‘unexpectedly humble objects were often traded between countries[1].’ Made in Northern Italy at some point in

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Istanbul –
Two thousand three hundred years on

Annabel Sheen    The Eyewitness travel guide’s blurb about Hagia Sophia notes that, along with the alterations required for its shifting religious uses over the centuries, the building has been ‘buttressed on numerous occasions, which has partly obscured its shape.’[1] Perhaps the same thought might be had of Istanbul as a city. The tours organised

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Floral borders: Gender, empire and the girls behind the needle

Hannah Lee   A tiny white cottage surrounded by green trees and a carefully labelled river, is beautifully rendered in coloured silks and chenille thread, featuring cross stitch, French knots and couched work on a woollen canvas[1]. Below the cottage is a map of some farm land, featuring a detailed table which demonstrates through the use a

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The View at a Distance: Cultural Perception and an Eighteenth Century Porcelain Figurine

Hannah Lee   Found in the world ceramics room of the V&A museum, this eighteenth century figurine is a little behind the sartorial times. The delicate blush which is barely visible on her eerily white face might deepen to a rosier hue, were she to know that her outfit was nearly a century out of

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The Past and the Present:
The Jameel Prize 2013

Hannah Lee   From carpets made of concrete, to the detailed beading on an evening jacket inspired by the ornate architecture of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, The Jameel Prize, whose finalists are currently display at the V&A museum, makes for exciting viewing. Established in 2009 the Jameel prize is an international competition for art and design

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We Three Kings:
The Construction of the ‘Other’ in the Early Modern Imagination

Hannah Lee   Twelfth night is upon us, Christmas is over once more and the space the below the now slightly drooping tree is morosely bare. The metres of glossy wrapping paper and ribbon which once flirted with expectant imaginations now adorns landfill sites and recycling plants across the world. In the Christian ecclesiastical calendar

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Crystal Clear?:
A Sixteenth Century Glass Mosque Lamp

Hannah Lee If you’re not careful you might miss it; your gaze passing through the glassy surface to fix on a point beyond. This however, would have made this objects sixteenth century Venetian maker very happy, for whom the achievement of absolute clarity in clear glass was tantamount to the perfection of his art. Historians

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From Object to Memorial:
Designing Remembrance

Hannah Lee   The bus shelter outside the Royal College of Art on Kensington Gore, London, appears to have been transformed into a temporary memorial. Suspended within a transparent cavity that has been created from one of the shelter’s walls hangs a military camouflage jacket wearing a poppy. Lit by fluorescents from within the frame

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A Dialogue In Ivory:
Thoughts on sixteenth century Afro-Portuguese salt cellars in the British Museum

Hannah Lee   Standing side by side in a case at the British Museum in London are four extraordinary pieces of ivory: two salt cellars, a piece believed to be the middle section of another, and a hunting horn. Although somewhat dwarfed by the walls of glass which surround them, their visual impact is undiminished.

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