Stuff of Nightmares Exhibition

So we are well into August now and I’m guessing many parents out there will be well and truly sick of having their little dears at home and underfoot by now. So while you count down the days until the beginning of the new school year (and the rediscovery of your sanity), Felix and Amelia seem intent on maiming each other on the Wii, all the while telling you how booooored they are. Why not give them an entertaining day out, with a mild dose of the scares thrown in too – no better way of reasserting your authority we feel!

The ‘Stuff of Nightmares’ exhibition explores the darker side of traditional fairy tales looking under the veneer of innocence of the stories we have told and re-told to successive generations of small children. The original tales were dark and sinister, depicting worlds populated by witches, trolls, goblins, and wolves, and were quite explicitly violent. Subsequent versions became somewhat sanitised for a child audience and many of the stories underpin the narrative of contemporary children's literature and film. The fairytales we tell children usually assume an air of innocence - good always triumphs over evil, heroes are selfless and love is everlasting - some fairy tales however, explore the darker side of a child’s imaginary landscape…

During The Stuff of Nightmares the gallery is transformed into a creepy forest where anything might happen. The dark setting for a re-telling of the Brothers Grimm’s ‘Fundevogel’, a tale of abduction, fear, evil old women, revenge and ultimately, the power of friendship. The installation, made by local schoolchildren working with artists, sits alongside work by Katherine Tulloh, Ruth Weinberg, Jemima Brown, Daniel Bell and Sharon Brindle, which takes a closer look at the playthings of innocents. Rather more sinister than sweet.

The exhibition also includes a police identity parade of villainous toy suspects, rounded up to assist the forest police with their inquiries. This provides a rare opportunity for some of the Museum's far from cute objects to be on display.

This exhibition runsuntil 26 February 2012.

V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Rd, London, United Kingdom E2 9PA