From Grumpy Cat to Menswear Dog, Fenton to that raving parrot, pets are deeply embedded in contemporary culture. In fact, in 2018, Brits spent an estimated £1.7bn on pet services and products (think grooming, walking and buying tiny jumpers), with data research company Mintel predicting a 25 per cent increase in this phenomenal figure in the next five years. To explore and celebrate our increasingly important relationships with our non-human pals, the Victoria & Albert Museum will stage a dedicated Friday Late on 26 July, called Pick of the Litter.
The programme features a pack of creatives who are inspired by animals in their practice. Dancer Yu-Hsien Wu, for example, will perform Dirty PawS, a solo piece built around the movement of an imagined species, which explores the relationship between animals and humans. Turning the dynamic of performing dogs on its head, artists Krõõt Juurak and Alex Bailey will run workshops where participants can learn how to create a live show for a number of different types of animal, as part of their ongoing project Performances for Pets.
DOG Magazine and illustrator Definitely Jenny will be on hand running a carbon paper monoprint workshop, where attendees can create their own pooch, which will be added to a collective “dog park”. Visitors can meet two miniature pigs, who have been specially trained as therapy animals by the wonderfully named “Pigfather” and find out more about how animals are used for therapeutic and health purposes. Also on show will be 13 breed-specific structures created by architects and designers, including Kengo Kuma and Sou Fujimoto, as part of Muji art director Kenya Hara’s Architecture for Dogs project. Tunes will be provided by Visions Festival, which now kicks its London Fields-based event with a dog show.
The exhibition coincides with a new self-guided trail through the museum, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, that allows animal-lovers to find some of the critters tucked away in the collection from medieval elephants to dogs on tombs. All the museum asks is that you please don’t bring your own pets along.
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