Find Your Local Shop In V&A's Tower Of Babel

By Londonist Last edited 32 months ago
Find Your Local Shop In V&A's Tower Of Babel
Barnaby Barford's Tower of Babel. Photo by Andy Dunn for the V&A.

This sculpture of the Tower of Babel by artist Barnaby Barford has just gone up at the V&A, depicting 3,000 real London shops piled one on top of each other.

Look closely and you might be able to find one from your own high street. Barford cycled all over the capital, travelling some 1,000 miles in order to visit every postcode. He took pictures of the shops that caught his eye then turned these into miniature facades, which were then made into bone china models by a factory in Stoke-on-Trent.

The six metre high installation refers back to the Biblical skyscraper that was symbolic of man's hubris. Here the message is about hierarchy. There are derelict buildings at the base of the tower, the units then rising in status until you get to swanky boutiques at the top. As a statement about consumerism, it appears to be more of a charming poke than an angry moralistic lesson from on high. That said, we do question the irony that's clearly behind the decision to sell the models in the V&A shop at prices ranging from £90-£6,000.

Barford says: "This is London in all its retail glory, our city in the beginning of the 21st century and I’m asking, how does it make you feel?"

The Tower of Babel installation is situated in the V&A’s Medieval & Renaissance Galleries until 1 November as part of London Design Festival.

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Photo by Andy Dunn for the V&A.
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The artist applying finishing touches. Photo by Andy Dunn for the V&A.
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Photo by Andy Dunn for the V&A.
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Recognise them? Photo by Andy Dunn for the V&A.
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Artist Barnaby Barford at work on the facades. Photo by Andy Dunn for the V&A.
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Photo by Andy Dunn for the V&A.

Last Updated 10 September 2015