So we avoided the Diana Memorial Fountain and observed the Serpentine; Apsley House; the Wellington Monument, and its new neighbour, the Australian War Memorial, before passing the Brompton Oratory on the way to the V&A to see its International Arts and Crafts exhibition.
The displays are grouped into four main sections: Britain, America, Europe and Japan. It's interesting to see the common themes of traditional materials and images, yet also the divergent approaches. For example, in Germany the concept of mass-production was not considered incompatible with arts and crafts, so long as the finished product was of appropriate quality. Many artefacts were obviously naturalistic; in some cases, particularly the American and German sections, the influences of Art Noveau and Art Deco could be seen; and whilst the Western arts and crafts tradition used natural forms, the Japanese tradition often sought to tame and control nature by its well-defined geometries. Although I enjoyed the exhibition, it did leave me with a sense of melancholy of the impractical ideals of the movement: by eschewing mass-production the artefacts of the arts and crafts movement would inevitably be high-value items, affordable only for the Granita-dining classes; like today's organic food sector, a product that might be founded on principles of sustainability becomes unattainable for the majority of the population.