Essay

At Home and in the Studio: Josephine Rout of V&A Museum

We went into lockdown in mid-March and have been living a very limited life ever since. My husband, Francis had only just moved to London and my exhibition, Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk, was open for two weeks before the museum closed its doors. Initially this meant working from home, but I was soon furloughed, which gave me time to settle into our small flat in East London’s Forest Gate. I moved here last November when I was busy with work and barely at home, so we spent the first few weeks hanging pictures and working on the garden, where we’ve been planting vegetables and making friends with the scurry of squirrels that live in our tree.

Being unable to work has allowed me to embrace my leisurely instincts: reading in bed, going for walks, making cocktails and watching films in the bath. My uncle gave us a radio as a housewarming gift and it has been an essential part of our lockdown, particularly when we were losing track of what day it was. I am now back at work but mostly doing so from home, moving around the flat and setting up my office wherever seems best suited for my mood that day.

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Josephine Rout is a Curator in the Asian department at the Victoria and Albert Museum. She is co-curator of the exhibition Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk and author of Japanese Dress in Detail, published by Thames and Hudson. She was born in Ōtautahi Christchurch and studied at the University of Canterbury and the Royal College of Art.

I’ve always wanted to live in a place with a bay window so have made the most of our one by sitting here most days

Various objects on our mantelpiece, including a ceramic by Nichola Shanley and piece by Lonnie Hutchinson

I’ve really valued having so much time to read, some of my favourite lockdown books were Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo and There, There by Tommy Orange

The back of the flat where we have filled with plants and have our meals

In the kitchen where a New Yorker cartoon hangs above a vase of gladioli and our Roberts Radio

A corner of our garden, which was completely bare when we moved in but is now home to zucchini, nasturtiums, beans and tomatoes

One of our squirrel friends

An ikebana vase repurposed as champagne bucket

Spring blooms at our local park

Some locally sourced wisteria in the kitchen

Some Barry Cleavin prints I finally got around to hanging and my neglected high heels

My dressing table has remained as cluttered as ever during lockdown