|19th C (?) Cutouts on loan from the Nurenbug Spielzeugmuseum|
|Sci-fi War Toys|
|The Swiftian proportions of the diorama become clear!|
Obviously the exhibitions curators are bound to contextualize play, and play about warfare as a socially meaningful activity rather than just "mucking about with toy soldiers" - producing discourse about attitudes to both childhood and conflict, a sensitive area. The large 'sci-fi' diorama contains both references to Swiftian fantasy-satire in it's content and a more formal reference to the Chapman Bros, Hell, and perhaps tabletop miniatures wargaming makes it very interesting.
There are loads of other artefacts, toy guns, Action Man packaging, Daleks, running the whole gamut of 'I had one of those' to 'they don't make them like that any more!'. The Museum of Childhood has long been one of my favorite museums, speaking to the past through play and play-objects has an (I think) very special way of connecting to people, if the 'hands off' is a bit annoying for children. That it is only just round the corner from the E.Pellicci cafe makes it all the more enticing.
War Games at the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood also has as a fantastic collection of short essays, that accompany the exhibition which include such statements as:
"There is now an established academic literature that argues that much of our understanding about international politics comes via reference to popular culture." - Sean Carter
"The arrival of space age cultural narratives created a new space for popular geopolitical expression." - Tara Woodyer
"...games help to 'naturalise' certain ways of thinking about global politics." - Sean Carter
"...interest in toy soldiers was indeed far from restricted to boys and men." - Mary Guyatt
As well as featuring the hugely emotional War Toys Project work of photographer Brian McCarty, working with children in areas effected by war and conflict to express their experience through drawing and reconstructing those as toy dioramas.
Hope to catch it at some point.
All photos (c) Daniel Turner