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Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London – Exhibition at V&A Museum

Updated on August 17, 2017
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Frances has many years' experience writing travel articles and reviewing art galleries, museums, and the books they publish.

A Wood Carver, from a collection depicting craftsmen of the North-West Provinces of British India, by Lockwood Kipling, 1870

Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London at the V&A, supported by the Friends of the V&A.
Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London at the V&A, supported by the Friends of the V&A.

V&A Museum and Bard Graduate Center Present Fascinating Exhibition About Lockwood Kipling

London's Victoria and Albert Museum in a joint collaboration with the Bard Graduate Center, New York, presents an exhibition entitled Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London.

The exhibition is co-curated by Julius Bryant, Keeper of Word & Image, and Dr Susan Weber, Director of the Bard Graduate Center. Exploring the life and work of Lockwood Kipling (1837-1911), this exhibition shows the results of a 3-year research project by scholars from Mumbai, Lahore, London, New York, Vermont and Hawaii.

About the Artist

Born in Yorkshire in 1837, John Lockwood Kipling initially worked as an architectural sculptor and designer. After joining the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A Museum), Kipling created terracotta architectural sculptures for the new museum buildings. His own image is still visible in a mosaic panel overlooking the John Madejski garden. Just in case you're thinking the name seems familiar, Lockwood was the father of Rudyard Kipling, many of whose books he illustrated.

Speaking recently, Julius Bryant said: “It's note often that the V&A puts on an exhibition about a member of its own staff!”

Kipling in Bombay and Lahore

In 1865 Kipling went to Bombay (now Mumbai) where he stayed for ten years, teaching at the Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy School of Art. He moved to Lahore in 1875 to become Principal of the Mayo School of Art (now Pakistan's National College of Arts) and Chief Curator of the Lahore Central Museum.

At the Mayo School he and his staff recruited talented students from the surrounding area. He pioneered an entirely new approach to art education using the museum's collections and the city's architecture as sources for students to study and copy.

As Chief Curator of the museum Kipling developed and expanded the reference library as well as the museum's collections. Working closely with his colleague Bhai Ram Singh, he organised the design and construction of new buildings for both the museum and the art school.

In Bombay and Lahore Kipling collected photographs and prints of Indian crafts and craftsmen, reflecting a variety of cultural and religious traditions. In the late 1860s and early 1870s many craft traditions were in decline. To ensure their preservation, Kipling encouraged his students to focus on regional crafts such as wood carving, carpentry and textiles.

During this period Kipling and his students were involved in the decoration of much of Bombay's emerging Gothic Revival architecture. Many of the buildings they worked on can be seen in a film specially commissioned for the exhibition. Kipling encouraged his students to make detailed studies of local buildings, such as mosques and monuments, many of which are on display.

Kipling's unceasing efforts in the preservation of Punjabi arts and crafts must not be under- estimated. The V&A's collection includes many items that Kipling sent back to London including plaster casts and salvaged architectural features as well as contemporary items such as detailed carved doors, windows and screens.

The Great Exhibition: India No. 4 by Joseph Nash, ca.1851

Copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016. Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London at the V&A, supported by the Friends of the V&A.
Copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016. Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London at the V&A, supported by the Friends of the V&A.

How the Great Exhibition of 1851 Inspired Him

As a teenager, Lockwood Kipling visited the 1851 Great Exhibition. One of the highlights of his visit was the Indian section. This was put together by the British East India Company to open up new markets for Indian crafts and materials.

Bracelet shown at the Great Exhibition, made in Rajasthan, India, ca.1850

Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London at the V&A, supported by the Friends of the V&A.
Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London at the V&A, supported by the Friends of the V&A.

After seeing items such as this Indian-made gold bracelet Lockwood was inspired to train as a designer and modeller.

The bracelet is inset with diamonds and enamelled on the outside in a vibrant translucent royal blue. Indian jewellery was often enamelled on the inside as well to protect the soft gold from damage caused by contact with the wearer's skin. The inside of this bracelet is enamelled with a scroll pattern of green leaves and red flowers on a white ground. Pigeons and green and red parrots peck at the leaves. The item now forms part of the V&A's collection.

Lockwood Illustrated Books for his Son, Rudyard.

Copyright image by Frances Spiegel (2017) with permission from the V&A Museum, all rights reserved.
Copyright image by Frances Spiegel (2017) with permission from the V&A Museum, all rights reserved.

Retirement - Kipling Rekindle's Old Passions

Lockwood Kipling retired in 1893. On returning to England he spent his retirement working with family, friends, and colleagues. Drawing upon his knowledge of Indian art and architecture, Lockwood created innovative book designs and illustrations, many for his son Rudyard. He also rekindled his love of pottery, and one of my favourite exhibits is this terracotta tobacco jar.

Terracotta Tobacco Jar and Cover in the form of a Bear, by Lockwood Kipling, 1896.

Copyright National Trust/Charles Thomas. Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London at the V&A, supported by the Friends of the V&A.
Copyright National Trust/Charles Thomas. Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London at the V&A, supported by the Friends of the V&A.

Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London

Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London will be on show from 14th January to 2nd April 2017. The display will be on display at the Bard Graduate Centre from 15th September 2017 to 4th February 2018.

Admission is free and further information is available from the V&A Museum.

Getting to the V&A Musem

A markerV&A Museum -
Cromwell Rd, Kensington, London SW7, UK
get directions

The impressive V&A Museum stands at the corner of Cromwell Road and Exhibition Road. It is just a few minute's walk from South Kensington Tube Sta

© 2017 Frances Spiegel

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