Kipling, now you are thinking about The Jungle Book or about cakes. Think again, Lockwood Kipling is the father of Rudyard and nothing to do with the cakes (I think), he is also the subject of an exhibition at the V&A. Not just because he was a good Dad but because he was a talented man in his own right and one that was involved with the early days of the V&A itself. He can be seen today on the terracotta panels that adorn the upper reaches of the museum’s inner courtyard.
Lockwood Kipling was the son of a Methodist minster, when he was a teenager the family came down to London to see the Great Exhibition. Lockwood was blown away by the exhibits in the India gallery (some of which became part of the founding collection of the V&A) all thoughts of following in his father’s footsteps were abandoned. He headed to the Potteries for a training in ceramics before joining the fledgling V&A.
Soon he was sent to Bombay to teach at the Sir Jamsetjee JeeJeebhoy School of Art and then off to Lahore to be the principal of the new Mayo School of Art. Whilst he was there he developed an interest in the art and artists of India (these were pre-partition days and the whole sub continent was called India). He made many drawings of both craftsmen and of the their work as well as encouraging many of them to refine their skills.
What really made his name back home was the commission to design the Delhi Durbar, put on to mark the coronation of Victoria as Empress of India. So impressed was the Queen by reports of his work that she commissioned him and his former student Bhai Ram Singh to create the Durbar Hall at Osborne House and an Indian Billiard Room at Bagshot Park. Both of these rooms are depicted on wall size projections along with some of the furniture that the duo designed for the rooms.
I had never heard of Lockwood Kipling before the invitation to the Press view arrived, what an interesting man. What is also fascinating is the glimpse into how the V&A began all those years ago. With interested people going out and gathering interesting things of the very highest quality to inspire and inform visitors to the new museum. This time when I walked through the central courtyard on my way to the fine tearooms I looked up at the terracotta plaques with especial interest.
LOCKWOOD KIPLING: ARTS AND CRAFTS IN THE PUNJAB AND LONDON
Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London
14 January 2017 – 2 April 2017
Open: Daily 10am – 5.45pm (until 10pm Friday)