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5 March, 2017 21:59

March 5, 2017

Swan Centrepiece 1985

The Mascot…..

What was interesting about the object, was it was a swan, and that the V&A made it the mascot of this specific collection. The way the description was laid out and written, the museum themselves has chosen this piece of design to represent the collection, in this case the Gilbert collection. To me using this design of a silver made swan really brings the culture within the V&A voice. The fact that the swan is the queens bird, therefore being quite patriotic by labelling this design as the mascot of the collection. A mascot of England? Also the fact that the original owners of the Gilbert collection were both British themselves and had this design displayed in their own home in Los Angeles.

Its also as if, you were not to pay attention to the rest of the collection you would remember they have included a swan, such a cultural identity of Britain. Not a lot of information is given about this swan, only that it was used in their home. So for me as an institution they are really playing on the fact that this object is a very British thing, this may be why it brings so much attention to its self and why they have made it the mascot of the collection. Still this word ‘mascot’ stands out to me. It reminds me of some silly guy dressed up in a suit dancing around. Makes me think that they might not be taking the object seriously and considering the significance of the swan in the United kingdom. It is supposed to complement the collection but I think the opposite, I believe it distracts.

Now considering the placement of this life size swan. Its displayed on its own, a large case surrounding it and at the start of the collection. Hard to miss. From just observing and relating back to that it distracts, everybody who walked into this collection went straight to the swan, without acknowledging anything else at first. Also due to its placement a part of the collection was near enough always missed due to that other people wouldn’t look behind them as they are drawn forwards towards this object, and then move on forwards without releasing what they have missed. The swan itself as a design is amazing, the fact its life size and the detail of it using such a material as silver is magnificent, this to me represents the museum wants to show high quality artefacts. And this object in particular they want to show off a cultural object in a good way. Which would impress and catch attention. Thats what it did do mainly. I just believe if a different word to represent this object and collection was used instead of mascot it would have justified it better than it did. For me it would have made me think that the V&A’s voice towards this object and it cultural significance was taken more seriously. So overall the word ‘mascot’ really changed my mind about this object when I first saw it, just shows what one word can do in a place like the V&A.

By George Hanlon

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