News: Major display of children’s rainbows marks the reopening of the V&A

Coinciding with reopening on 2nd December, the V&A today announces its largest ever installation of children’s artworks as part of a special free display. All Will Be Well: Children’s Rainbows from Lockdown, invites visitors to revisit this powerful moment in which the image of a rainbow – a long-standing symbol of hope – took on new meaning as a collective expression of support and solidarity.

These joyful homemade pieces, crafted by children, became an international signal of hope and animated streetscapes around the world from Amsterdam to Australia during lockdown. The installation follows on from a national call-out for signs made during the pandemic earlier this year, led jointly with the V&A Museum of Childhood.

The rainbows set to go on display have all been created by children living in villages, towns and cities across the United Kingdom and internationally, numbering over 100. Hand-drawn, in a variety of mediums and sizes including paper and textiles, these heartfelt pieces will be organised across a selection of large steel window frames and paired with quotes from their young creators. Set within bright, joyful and uplifting colours and wall-projections, All Will Be Well: Children’s Rainbows from Lockdown aims to bring cheer to museum visitors at an otherwise unsettling time.

The V&A’s display will show how the concept was first conceived by families from the Lombardy region in Italy, accompanied by the phrase ‘Andrà Tutto Bene’, or All Will Be Well, reflecting on a moment a time when formal schooling, playing with friends, visit family, or leaving the house wasn’t possible. Creating a rainbow offered an opportunity to express creativity, to feel part of a powerful collective movement, and particularly for children living in the UK, a chance to show their appreciation for the NHS.

The national callout in May 2020 formed both a key part of the V&A’s Pandemic Objects series: an editorial project compiling and reflecting on objects that have taken on new meaning and purpose during the coronavirus outbreak, and a key acquisition project for the V&A Museum of Childhood. The artworks express the power and impact of child creativity and will enter the museum’s permanent collection, currently undergoing a major transformation to become a world-leading museum of design and creativity for children and young people.

Brendan Cormier, Senior Exhibition Curator at the V&A, said: “This pandemic has brought to light how creativity, channelled through widespread participation, can produce a powerful and moving statement about solidarity. The act of thousands of children, each individually contributing their own rainbow image, temporarily transformed our streets and cities into open-air galleries and will go down in history as one of greatest artworks of the 21st century.”

Kristian Volsing, Project Curator at the V&A Museum of Childhood, said: “This collection of Rainbow artworks, crafted and donated by children across the globe, forms an outstanding declaration to the power of creativity to offer mindful sustenance and provide children with a way to make their voices heard. Representing the response to a transformative moment in all our lives, and showcasing the remarkable empathy of this country’s next generation – we are thrilled to have acquired a selection of these wonderful, joyful pieces for the new V&A Museum of Childhood.”

Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, said: “Rainbows are a powerful symbol of strength and solidarity and became a source of inspiration for us all through public displays of support for our NHS and key workers. The new All Will Be Well installation is a beautiful tribute which celebrates that incredibly moving moment. As London emerges from lockdown and our city’s cultural institutions start to reopen, people will be able to see how hard they have worked hard to make their spaces Covid-safe. This free exhibition is a fantastic way to welcome visitors back to the V&A and a timely reminder that we will beat this virus in London together.”

Also opening from 2nd December, Renaissance Watercolours will present a series of rare gems from the museum’s collections to explore the pivotal role of this often under-appreciated art form. Alongside, On Point: Royal Academy of Dance at 100 will take visitors through a century of dance history from costumes and sets to performances and films.

On 12th December, the V&A’s long-awaited exhibition Bags: Inside Out will open. From Winston Churchill’s dispatch boxes to Kate Moss’ ‘it’ handbag, this exhibition will explore the style, craft and seduction of the ultimate accessory.

For more information visit https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/book-free-timed-entry

Photo credit: V&A

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