The spirit of Galicia in the V&A part 1

Everything starts with a great Vision:


This article is about the story of the Albarino wine from Galicia, however not just any Albarino but made by JOSÉ ANTONIO LÓPEZ DOMÍNGUEZ the father of Victor Hugo Lopez Borges.

I first met Hugo in London at the Galician Business connection 2012. He was there to represent his father JOSÉ ANTONIO LÓPEZ DOMÍNGUEZ wine here in London. The wines have 3 different names are: Trico, Nicolas and Talba de Sumar.

At this conference we spoke briefly about his fathers story and I was immediately taken by this authentic and unique  history, concept and story. I am the kind of person that loves great wines but  I also am always also looking for a story and passion about the wine.

The history of this family definitely did not fail to deliver exactly this on any counts.

I suggested that I would write about his incredible family heritage and story of the Galician Albarino “Rías Baixas” .

Before I can tell the story of the wine I could not do so without also writing about Hugo and a little bit about the V&A first as not only is his father an important pioneer of Alberino, Hugo is in his own right also of incredible acclaim.

Victor Hugo Lopez Borges infront of the reproduction of the Pórtico da Gloria in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.The Pórtico da Gloria of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is a Romanesque portico by Master Mateo and his workshop at the request of King Ferdinand II of León, who donated for this purpose one hundred maravedís annually between 1168 and 1188, when the latter consisting inscribed in stone in the cathedral as its completion. On April 1, 1188 placed the lintels of the portico and the conclusion of the set was delayed until 1211, at which time the temple was consecrated by the presence of King Alfonso IX of León.

The portico has three arches that correspond to each of the three naves of the church, supported by thick piers with pilasters. The central arch is the largest (twice than each side), is the only one who has tympanum and is divided by a central column, the mullion, with the figure of Saint James. Vertically, the lower band is formed by the bases of the columns, decorated with fantastic animals, the middle strip consists of columns supporting the statues of the Apostles and attached the upper arches crowning the three doors. The sculpture is intended as an iconographic representation of different symbols taken from the Apocalypse of St. John and other texts of the Old Testament.

Hugo is the  Senior Sculpture Conservator, at the V&A.

His work involves looking after the sculpture collections at the V&A, that include sculpture of different procedences from European to Indian and Chinese, we work all materials from stone to terracotta, plaster ivory etc..

He physically works on the objects in order to make them stable and recover, as much as posible, their original look preserving all the characteristics and history.

He researches new conservation technicques as well as the original materlas and techniques of the objects.

He coordinates the sculpture loans that go from the V&A to different Institutions around the world, wich involves sometimes travelling with them to supervise their transit and installation.

Hugo is a conservation coordinator for some of the new projected in the Museum that involve sculptures, where he is part of a work team from the earlier stages of the design of the new galleries.

I would like to take this opportunity to also talk a bit about the V&A and how I found the spirit of Galicia here in london together with Hugo that day.

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela GALICIA
Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
(Galician: Catedral de Santiago de Compostela) is a Roman Catholic cathedral of the archdiocese of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. The cathedral is the reputed burial-place of Saint James the Greater, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ. It is the destination of the Way of St. James, a major historical pilgrimage route since the Early Middle Ages. The building is a Romanesque structure with later Gothic and Baroque additions.
This is truly a magical pilgrim point for many people each year.
The tradition is that after a long pilgrim walk they all gather here to lay down infront of the cathedral to view it in reverse perspective. I did not pilgrim as such but I did try doing so and this is a picture of me laying on the ground viewing the cathedral and it seemed as if it was the gate of heaven. Very enigmatic. I am not a catholic however I can really appreciate this experience.
This is the replication of the Pórtico da Gloria in the V&A LONDON life size
ALl pilgrims used to as there first point of contact to the cathedral after the strenuous walk place there hand on the central piller which has the indentation of many years of pilgrim hands reshaping the stone.

Hugo showed me around the V&A and I had learned so much that day. I really start appreciating the V&A from a very different and more personal experience.

The person to create the V&A was an extraordinary person with a very great Vision.

Vision needs commemoration so here is a little about the story of how the V&A was created:

Sir Henry Cole (15 July 1808 – 18 April 1882) was an English civil servant and inventor who facilitated many innovations in commerce and education in 19th century Britain.

As one of the Commissioners, Cole was instrumental in the decision that the £186,000 surplus from the Great Exhibition would be used for improving science and art education in the United Kingdom. Land was purchased in the South Kensington area and developed as the centre for a number of educational and cultural institutions, known half-jokingly as “Albertopolis“.

Henry Cole was appointed the first General Superintendent of the Department of Practical Art, set up by the government to improve standards of art and design education in Britain with reference to their applicability to industry. In this capacity he was instrumental in the development of the Victoria and Albert Museum which had begun as the Museum of Ornamental Art in Marlborough House. Cole oversaw its move to its current site, and became first director of what was initially called South Kensington Museum from 1857 to 1873. In 1974 a part of the museum that was once known as the Huxley Building was renamed the Henry Cole Building; today it forms the Henry Cole Wing of the V&A. The official opening by Queen Victoria was on 22 June 1857. This was to enable in the words of Cole “to ascertain practically what hours are most convenient to the working classes” — this was linked to the use of the collections of both applied art and science as educational resources to help boost productive industry. In these early years the practical use of the collection was very much emphasised as opposed to that of “High Art” at the National Gallery and scholarship at the British Museum. George Wallis(1811–1891), the first Keeper of Fine Art Collection, passionately promoted the idea of wide art education through the museum collections.

The idea was to inspite modern manufactures with good examples of Art and design from all over the world and different hystorical periods.

The purpose was to offer a resource for designers, Artists, architects and general public with good examples of design and Art inorder to create something new.

What I appreciate most about the V&A is that it serves as a creative inspiration tank with many artefacts that have been carefully selected none discriminative of time, particular form or culture.

Unlike a normal museum were everything is filed in sections, here at the V&A you are taken by surprise as you walk through the building, constantly discovering something in a childlike curiosity.

You will find fashion,  many world wide cultural treasures past, present and future, art, jewellery  architecture many elements of wonders of the world. If you are a photographer or textile designer, painter a creative or just someone who appreciates beautiful things you are definitely going to be inspired here at the V&A.

The V&A exhibits  old design inspiring modern design. Old and new co exist together in beautiful and ever current harmony. Were ever you look it all works together.

Everyone who comes here will see it differently. Many designers like Vivian Westwood, Paul Smith all love the V&A for the very same reason as so many do….the exquisit source of inspiration.

One of the most important contribution the V&A inspires first and foremost it the importance of good craftsmanship no matter what kind of artist or designer you may be!

Everywhere you go in you will find people drawing, sketching, writing and taking pictures.

This article is actually going to be about the iconic Albarino and a pioneer wine maker from Galicia.

His son Victor Hugo Lopez Borges works here in London in the V&A for the last 12 years restoring and taking care of art.

I was so inspired during our interview, I had an deep insight of the connection of the vision of the V&A, the vision and spirit of galician traditional winemaking that also has exact parallels to my vision of Japanese kyoto culture amongst other things.

I will write more about this in part 2.

The V&A is such an important Gallery and it is for this reason I decided to give a homage in part 1 of the article before I go on to tell the story of the meeting between a pioneering galician winemaker, the son who  preserves fine art in the V&A and a japanese specialist chef.

Part 2 following shortly……..


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