The serene, elliptical pool in the John Madejski Garden – the huge interior courtyard at the V&A – has been transformed by Chinese artist Xu Bing to become an ethereal fantasy garden, inspired by a fifth-century Chinese fable called ‘Tao Hua Yuan’ (‘The Peach Blossom Spring’). ‘Mountains’ (actually, big chunks of rock from different regions of China) surround the pool. Ceramic animals roam the peaks, fish frolic in the shallow water and among the slopes are miniature houses. There are also tiny TV screens and other unexpected elements to discover. The dream-like installation is especially magical after dark, and it has appeal for both children and adults.
In the museum's TT Tsui Gallery, there will also be an exhibition of Xu Bing's work – including examples of his large-scale calligraphy – called 'Travelling to the Wonderland: Sketches, Calligraphy and Paintings by Xu Bing' for the duration of the installation.
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The highlight for me was pausing to watch the short video clips featured on the miniature screens at the foothills of the "mountains", many of which were lyrical versions of Kamasutra positions being performed by stick figured couples. A definitely left with a heightened sense of awareness of why the little details of life make living worthwhile. Thank you.
I obviously "missed" the effect of this piece. I saw it in the day and so perhaps didn't get the full effect but it seemed a jumble of wires and artificial twigs and blooms. It all left my friend and I rather bemused and under whelmed. Try it in the dark it might be improved by the lighting effects.
After reading the previous reviews decided to make the trip across the capital for a late night viewing. Really disappointed with the installation which didn't have the impact I was expecting. I have many times visited the V&A sitting in utter tranquillity on my own, also in the business of a hot day with children and families delighting in the water. The installation did not seem to add any atmosphere to the area just a jumble and occasional blue light reflected off the water - I am obviously missing something.
Imparts a sense of serenity and well-being that it's hard to find elsewhere in the capital. Well worth a visit.
Xu Bing's installation at the V&A is stunning. Calm and idyllic, it was difficult for me to walk past it without standing for several minutes taking it all in. I am looking forward to going back over the winter to see it in different light and weather conditions. A stunning moment of calm in the middle of London traffic.