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all will be well, children's rainbows from lockdown
Photograph: All Will Be Well: Children’s Rainbows from Lockdown; courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The V&A is reopening with a display of children’s rainbow drawings

This new installation is a simple tribute to the trials of 2020

Chris Waywell

More than 100 drawings of rainbows created by children during the pandemic are going on display at the V&A in South Kensington, as it reopens for the second time. The display, ‘All Will Be Well: Children’s Rainbows from Lockdown’ derives from a callout that the museum instituted back in May this year in conjunction with the V&A Museum of Childhood, itself part of wider initiative called ‘Pandemic Objects series’, which has been asking the general public for donations of artefacts that have taken on a new significance during lockdown. 

The rainbow was an early and widely adopted visual symbol of solidarity among communities and with frontline and key workers as the Covid crisis developed. Along with banging pans in the street and depriving children of their beloved teddies so they could stand sentinel in your front windows, it has become a defining image of 2020. ‘All Will Be Well’ derives its title from a translation of the Italian words ‘andrà tutto bene’. This phrase accompanied rainbow drawings that appeared with the shutdown of the Lombardy region, one of the earliest and most badly affected areas of Europe.

The pieces in the display run from simple coloured-pencil drawings to more elaborate works involving fabric and collage. Many of the drawings celebrate the NHS for its (ongoing) Herculean efforts to battle the pandemic. Eventually, the rainbows will enter the permanent collection of the V&A Museum of Childhood, which is currently in the midst of a major transformation to become a world-leading museum of design and creativity for young people.

This show is a simple reminder of how the crisis has affected all ages in our city and country, and a relatively undemanding way to ease yourself back into museum visiting. If you reckon you can cope with something a bit more challenging, the V&A also has its show ‘Renaissance Watercolours’, which will be open at the same time.

‘All Will Be Well: Children’s Rainbows from Lockdown’ is at the V&A, Thu Dec 3-Feb 21 2021. Free. ‘Renaissance Watercolours’ is at the V&A, Wed Dec 2-May 1 2022. Free (booking essential). Find more info here.

Check out more art exhibitions about to reopen in London.

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