A day out at the new V&A in Dundee

A ‘how-to’ for modern families!

Arrive well in time and if you are driving to the new V&A in Dundee, think in advance about where you will park. We did not and got quite stressed, realising that the nearby spaces were for one hour only, the slightly further spaces were all full, or for Premier Inn customers only, and then when we did find a space, the ticket machine was incredibly puzzling and difficult to use. Look up a reasonably nearby multi storey on google maps and you will be fine.

The exterior, even from a distance is fascinating. I slightly wished that they had made the composite black or white rather than the steely grey that was chosen. However, the closer you get the more delightful and complex the building seems and it got full approval from the Gibb family in the end.

On entering you really do feel as if you are in the hull of a boat. There is a definite feeling of suspense as if you are about to embark on a wonderful adventure.

The interior is dark and quite noisy. The gallery is newly open, so understandably incredibly busy. The interior of the building connects less with the water than you would expect. My favourite art critic, Moira Jeffrey explained that it was designed deliberately to be wind and water tight rather than open to the elements, which is of course a necessity for survival in seafaring. I suspect when the initial buzz has quietened this stunning building will transform into an oasis of tranquillity in the heart of a truly burgeoning city. The few openings to the water offer shafts of light that are glimpses into the outside world from a place where you could potentially be transported anywhere, depending on the nature of the many amazing exhibitions that will hopefully be on offer.

We had split  as a family when we first arrived: Doug and I went for said, short drive looking for a parking space, leaving our daughter and granny and grandpa at the entrance of the building. It was about 11:45 and I had a secret plan of an early lunch before the queues formed and then enjoying the exhibits. But when we met up my plans were completely foiled, because granny and grandpa had bought themselves and Eva a coffee and a scone!! On no…. In order to regain synchronicity, Doug and I felt we had better have a coffee and a scone as well, we then all went for a wander, finding a long, but thankfully very fast moving queue to see the Scottish Design Galleries. These included many delights, such as these wedding dresses by designer Alexander MacQueen and so, so much more.

The dimly lit gallery gives a hint of what is great about Scottish design and invention. A few surprises and a few conspicuous absences: no golf clubs on display, for instance?? Plus, where was the show off stand of all the brilliant contemporary interior contributions from Scotland: MYB? Timourous Beasties? Leigh Bagley? To name but a few! Inchyra? Lino was touched on, but not to my eye, the nearby, equally historic Scottish Linen company in Kirkcaldly… Maybe I missed it…

We pressed on hoping to have a nice lunch in the upstairs, waitress service cafe, but it was booked til 3pm. Help – we won’t be caught out again, next time we will book a nice lunch for the moment we arrive…

Instead we went to the DCA (Dundee Centre for Contemporary Arts) and sat down in their, also very lovely cafe, and we found ourselves next to our fabulously knowledgeable friend Esther, owner of the Tantallon Studios in North Berwick, who kindly explained to us how marvellous the ‘pay to enter’ exhibition on Ocean Liners, that we had not bothered paying to enter was… Oh dear, next time we will book a nice lunch for the moment we arrive and then go and see the ‘pay-to-enter’ show…Apparently the gallery it is held in is stunning and it is really worth seeing. Doug is planning to donate his old ‘Benny’ in exchange for a ticket to the next ‘to-pay-for’ exhibition.

Architectural and interior images all by our daughter, Eva Gibb, images of Douglas and the family by me!

Can anyone see the incredible resemblance between our family and a Duane Hanson sculpture?

To be continued!

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