The Victoria and Albert Museum have announced that a six metre tall ceramic installation by artist Barnaby Barford will be displayed at the museum’s Medieval and Renaissance galleries from the 8th September until 1st November.

Titled The Tower of Babel the installation will comprised of 3,000 individual bone china buildings depicting a London shop.

During the process of making the tower, Barford photographed over 6,000 shop fronts and cycled to visit every postcode in the London area. The photographs are then created as ceramic transfers before being fired onto bone china in Stoke-Upon-Trent.

Barnaby Barford, The Tower of Babel (C) Barnaby Barford
Talking about the installation, Barnaby Barford commented: “This is London in all its retail glory, our city in the beginning of the 21st century and I’m asking, how does it make you feel? I am overjoyed to be exhibiting in one of the world’s greatest museums, it is fantastic to have the opportunity to explore our contemporary society in such historic surrounds.”  

Barnaby Barford ‘The Tower of Babel’ bone china buildings (c) Barnaby Barford

The tower has been constructed to reflect London’s economy and society and to invite visitors to view themselves as consumers. While at the base of the tower the shops are derelict, the top will be dedicated to London’s exclusive boutiques and galleries.

Artist Barnaby Barford primarily works with ceramics to explore all aspects of society. Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2002, he has exhibited all over the world and most recently had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia,USA.

Alun Graves, Senior Curator of the Ceramics and Glass collection at the V&A says of the work; “Part-sculpture, part-shop display, The Tower of Babel is an act of curated commerce. It’s about retail as a pastime, and the idea of shopping as a means (or not) to attain happiness. It is about how we identify ourselves as consumers and how we construct our sense of self through the choices we make when buying. Ultimately it’s about who we are, and where we position ourselves in the extraordinary metropolis that is London.


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