V & A Quilts iPhone App

Start up screen from the V & A Quits App

Start Up Screen

This one cost me $2.99. Part of me feels pleased with the investment, part of me feels ripped off. Let’s start with the ripped off part.

Quilts 1700-2010 is a guide to an exhibition held at the Victoria & Albert Museum. It seems to be the didactic audio guide repurposed. The enterprising makers probably thought: “Let’s get some extra money by selling this content to quilting tragics as an iPhone app.” Fair enough, but if you want to make money off us iPhone owning quilting tragics not able to visit the V & A without a 24 hour plane ride, maybe at least edit out the voice over references to the next panel, just to pretend you know we’re not really at the exhibition.

Screen shot of the menu

Looks like Video, actually mostly Audio.

This app is collection of audios dressed as videos which show a still picture of the quilt being discussed with an earnest but descriptive voice-over and some curatorial comments. It drove me nuts that I couldn’t zoom in to see the detail during the video playback, but for some quilts there was a separate menu item for a picture of the quilt that you could pinch on to zoom. Too bad the resolution wasn’t better in the photos. The tone and content of the voice-overs for these photo elements sounded condescending to my adult ears, along the lines of, “Now zoom in and see how many different animals YOU can see.” Remember, I’m a quilting tragic, so I actually give a damn about this stuff.

Now for the good bit. I learned about a fascinating piece of history, thanks to this app. The Rajah Quilt which was made by convict women being transported to Tasmania, or Van Diemen’s Land as it was then. This group of prostitutes, thieves and other criminals was shipped off to Australia along with a couple of pounds of fabric and bucketloads of thread, a gift from British Ladies Society for the Reformation of Female Prisoners. It was either to help them pass the time on the long journey to Australia or because of a Victorian notion of the redemptive power of work, or maybe both.

Whatever the thinking behind the gift of the materials, the women of the convict ship Rajah made a beautiful medallion quilt. It’s apparently so delicate and so valuable that it’s only placed on exhibit once a year. Maybe that’s why I hadn’t heard of it before buying this app.

I’m glad I got to hear the story of The Rajah Quilt. That alone is worth $2.99.

Have a iPhone or iPod Touch? Read my review of the Block Tool App. It’s a good buy.

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5 responses to “V & A Quilts iPhone App

  1. I would have bought this, then thrown my phone through a plate glass window in frustration when asked to play “Find the Penguin.” Gah!

    It’s a crying shame we’re on different continents. There are so few hilarious quilting tragics. We should stick together!

  2. Ugh! I just tried to hit LIKE on jodikasten’s post up there! LOL!

    • I’ve done that with other people’s blog comments, too :-) Funny how we get trained by the sites and applications we use, isn’t it. I like to try MS Word keyboard shortcuts on web pages. That doesn’t always go so well.

  3. What a shame you weren’t totally enamoured of the app. Me? I have both the hard back book AND got to the exhibit at the V&A (first time there). Loved it.

    • Thanks for the first hand account and good for you having the book as a permanent memento.

      I LOVE the V & A. I could spend a week there easily. I was surprised by what absorbed me the most when I went there on a London trip, several years ago. At the time there was an exhibition on of Princess Diana’s gowns. I was very surprised at how much I got out of seeing them up close. The design and craftsmanship were superb. Then there was that whole room full of greek pottery – and I mean jammed full, and some even depicting cheerful buggery. In that exhibit is was the density that blew me away. There are so very many treasures at the V & A.

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