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  • Sophie Harpley

My spiritual home, The V&A

In my early twenties I was very lucky to work at the Victoria & Albert Museum and the experience sparked a new creative direction for me. I was working as a Picture Researcher which meant I had daily access to a vast collection of awe inspiring artefacts.

While researching for projects like the V&A Patterns book series I was entranced by the decorative work of William Morris and exploring the galleries on lunch-breaks I discovered artist textiles and illustrative ceramics by Eric Ravilious, The Bloomsbury Group and others. I was amazed by wall to ceiling shelves of colourful glassware and journeys across the world and back in time to see the whole story of decorative design unfold. I especially loved the textiles and continually wondered how one would even begin to design clever and beautiful repeating patterns.

A fascination with vintage prints still shapes my work today and although I didn't learn to design such things until my MA Graphic Arts in 2012 - the V&A was undoubtedly my first inspiration. The museum continues to be a place I return to for relaxation and ideas.

My favourite gallery lately is the ceramics - easily overlooked if you flock to the main exhibitions. (Which makes it nice and peaceful too!) The ceramics gallery appears to have almost every single pot and jug, mug, plate, bowl, vase and teapot ever designed. It takes you through the centuries and the styles and the processes. Row after row, case after case of magnificent creations. Just go - seeing is believing.

Stig Lindberg dish, 1942

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