18 February 2014

From Vision to Exhibition

Ever looked at an exhibition and wonder who makes it happen? The V&A has been home to some unique and inspiring exhibitions - Tomorrow, Club to Catwalk and Memory Palace, just to name last years personal favourites - and I'm left wondering how the initial idea for these exhibitions became a physical reality.

January’s CreateInsights session welcomed Dana Andrews who gave us a peek into her role as the Exhibition Coordinator at the V&A. Every exhibition starts out as an initial proposal (generally from a curator), Dana explains how her job is to help make that concept become a reality, giving us examples from two successful exhibitions she has worked on at the V&A: including the fastest selling ‘David Bowie Is…’ and the Xu Bing installation ‘Travelling to the Wonderland’ currently on display in the V&A garden. Dana took us through some of the truths and myths surrounding her role, making it clear that her job is to work with a large and varied team to plan and deliver the exhibition within a certain time frame. She admits her job involves deadlines, lots of liaising, decision making and travelling.

Major exhibitions can involve hundreds of exclusive artworks on loan from multiple locations and Dana and her team find and arrange for the best examples to suit the exhibitions theme, which includes some research. The team have to consider which items are relevant in order to create an engaging story without simply stating the obvious.

With the David Bowie Is… exhibition, the team worked with Bowie's agents to bring together the best pieces, much of it from his private collection. In the end they used over 300 items for the exhibition, including clothing, song lyrics, footage and photography.  As expected a large team is required to set up an exhibition, and as the Exhibitions Coordinator, communicating with all these people is a major part of your role.

John Madejski Garden installation 'Travelling to the Wonderland' by Xu Bing 2013© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Designers, Technicians and the Curatorial Team are just a few groups which are involved. Although there is a set team of familiar faces, external workers with specialist skills are also required, so Dana emphasised that great people skills are necessary for her role.

With so many people and often so little time, maintaining a positive attitude is vital, and working under pressure and multitasking must come as second nature (let’s not forget Exhibition Coordinator’s will often work on more than one project at a time). Interestingly there are more women than men currently involved in the Exhibitions Department. Although not a bad thing, Dana admitted it would be nice to see more of a gender balance within her team.

Clearly as so much work goes into creating a successful exhibition, hard work equals great rewards. Dana gave us a look at some of the places her job allowed her to travel to, including a project in India and China

David Bowie is exhibition, 2013. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The job involves lots of travelling to exciting places across the world (as well as within the UK itself). Plus surprises are always around the corner, especially since the themes of exhibitions you work on can vary hugely. Nonetheless Dana did express her personal love for working on Fashion exhibitions.

Seeing the journey of an exhibition from an initial idea into the final show is an achievement in itself. However, if you’re a glory hogger, this role may not be for you, Dana jokes. But if you are happy to be presented with a concept (without the pressure of creating it from scratch) then this is a role which allows you to be an integral part of a fantastic journey without being shoved in the limelight.

Words by: Piarvé Wetshi  Photographs from the Victoria and Albert Museum

06 December 2013

Made it Happen!

Making it Happen was a recent project we undertook which involved debates on Google hangout with CreateVoice, Oi Kabum!, Made By Young People.

One of the current biggest topics related to young people is unemployment. Yes we know, over a million young people are unemployed (in London alone) but what is actually being done about it? 

After sharing ideas over a video conference call with a group of young people from Rio de Janeiro and Birmingham as part of a project with CreateVoice, I must say I realised the difference I could make. The themes of this video conference was

- creating agents of change in underprivileged backgrounds
- how to make the most of your idea

Oi Kabum, an Art & Design college from Rio, look at young people as channels for change in the local community, by giving them a chance to express themselves through design and becoming part of a project designed to spread across young people in an area. 

Oi Kabum students work with other young people from favelas, many of them are exposed to issues such as sex, drugs and poverty. They presented several projects and the one which was closer to me was the fanzine one. This project created an opportunity for authors to self-publish their own work, by putting them in touch with other writers and creating a community to network.

Made By Young People is a youth social enterprise who teach underprivileged young people entrepreneurial skills, which they then put into practice by becoming part of the operations of the organisation. The young people on the other side of the screen probably did not pronounce every T and P, or wear Armani suites, but one thing they all said was 'I'm a business owner'. Pretty impressive, they all made me want to have a business then and there (or at least work on it). Plus, I must say I definitely wanted one of their mugs for myself, with each design being personal to the designer. 

Made By Young People has created film makers, designers and sales people. Proving that the gap between corporate and creative is not an issue and also that, when given a chance and a step in the right direction, a dedicated young person is willing to work hard and achieve.

It was uplifting to see young people making such a massive difference despite the fact that they had been placed in what some people would say an impossible situation (which is just life really). One thing they made me value was the power of team work. It is easy to forget there is probably a million people sharing the same dream, and a few down the road from you, who would be happy to connect ideas together and make a difference if they knew what you were thinking. So share the joy and follow your dream.

If you want look out for more resources for young people in the arts, click here.

Words by: Piarvé Wetshi 

19 November 2013

Making it: Careers in Art & Design

For the last couple of months, CreateVoice have been working on a new event for young people interested in careers within the creative industries.
Now it's nearly here! Click HERE for the full programme.

19 October 2013

A visit to Antony Gormley's studio

It is not often that an opportunity arises that is so incredible and exciting that you can’t believe your luck - but being a member of CreateVoice certainly goes some way to improving your chances of such opportunities. I September, the V&A's youth board and Museum Director Martin Roth were invited to visit the studios of the inspirational British sculptor Antony Gormley.

From an early age I have always been inspired by the unrelenting, dynamic and beautiful sculptural work of Gormley. The sculptor is arguably most recognised for his work; ‘Angel of the North’ – erected in 1998. What struck me immediately when entering the gates of Gormley’s studio, was the impenetrable grandeur and finesse of the building. This converted warehouse designed by architect David Chipperfield, was vast both in its external presence on this unassuming quiet backstreet, as well as inside. The cavernous, hangar-like space inside, was meticulously designed to provide the artist and his team of assistants with the most amount of natural light possible.

They say that you should “never meet your heroes”. This phrase is often used as a gentle warning, discouraging enthusiastic youths from meeting their idols, in fear of being let down. Luckily for CreateVoice, meeting Antony Gormley himself only served to further expose him as the engaging, accommodating and passionate artist we have always admired. Gormley and his assistant generously took us on a tour around his studios - from the vast exploratory studio spaces, to rooms filled with previous experimental works as well as to his intimate office space which was crammed with natural forms, sculpture maquettes and artists books.

Gormley took the time to explain the processes behind his sculptural pieces both past and present and both in logistical terms as well as the thought processes behind the concept. His practice has always manifested itself around the human form. As Gormley discussed the concepts, his articulation and understanding of the human form (from its physiological associations to the biological and psychological renderings of it) was mind blowing. His passion and commitment to his practice was overwhelming and yet he took the time after the tour to engage with the members of CreateVoice individually. For me, meeting Antony Gormley was one of the most incredible experiences I have had with CreateVoice to date. For me, Gormley cemented his position as a committed, groundbreaking and inspirational artist whose dedication and commitment to people is as strong as his practice.

Words: Kerry Campbell
Images: Laura Blair & Issy Spence (images 5 & 6)

16 October 2013

Fashion Festival 2013

For the last few years at the Victoria & Albert Museum the Fashion Festival for young people has become a strong favourite with young visitors. The time of the year has rolled round again, and CreateVoice (alongside the Learning team) have put together a fantastic programme for young people interested in the fashion industry and the careers within it. This year’s event is set to be really interesting, with plenty of creative opportunities as well as industry advice.
The day includes: insights from ASOS; Henry Holland in conversation; demonstrations from MAC; Hollywood and LFW favourite Maria Grachvogel; the V&A's Fashion curator Oriole Cullen; trend predicting with Pentland Brands; fashion photography with Anomalous Visuals; fashion legend Julianna Sissons; tutors from London College of Fashion; the British Fashion Council and NEWGEN, and many more…
Come down to the V&A this Saturday, 19th October from 11am-5pm to get involved inthe amazing array of events!
Follow the FashionFest blog here, and get involved on Twitter using the #fashionfest13 hashtag - if you can't be there on the day, this is a great way to keep up to date with what's going on!
To read the full programme, click here!

Image: Laura Blair, from FashionFest 2012

05 September 2013

Breaking boundaries in ceramics: Keiko Masumoto, V&A Artist in Residence

CreateVoice members have been lucky enough to meet some of the world's top designers and artists thanks to the special visits and bespoke workshops that are organised just for us. Back in June we were all invited for a chat and a presentation by the Toshiba Japanese Ceramics artist in residence at the V&A, Keiko Masumoto.After graduating from the BA and MA Ceramics programmes at Kyoto City University of Art, Keiko has visited various organisations to showcase her work as a lecturer, artist in residence and exhibitor. 

During the presentation she narrated how she went on to develop her style - characteristically producing beautiful ceramic artworks moving between the boundaries of two and three dimensions, each one playing with the viewer’s perception and twisting their imagination. What was strikingly charming about her pieces was the seamless and flawless final look of the finished product that gave each object a surreal feel, making you ask: 'how did she do that?'

She was kind enough to answer lots of questions at the end of the session and gave us some valuable insight into the challenges she faces with some larger pieces of ceramic work and how she goes on to conquer them. Most of her designs are inspired by nature and try to mix the inanimate with the animate. Personally, I was left with a sense of awe and surprise each time I saw a new piece from her portfolio that she presented to us. My favourite was a piece which comprised of a flock of birds flying in the sky; some were painted onto ceramic plates whilst others were three dimensional pieces of ceramic themselves, flying alongside each other.

Keiko will be based at the V&A’s Ceramics Studio at the V&A until the end of September 2013.

You can find the dates of open studios, and more information about the residency programme here
Keiko also has a website and a blog.
The video below is also a great insight into some of her works.

Words: Yashraj Jain
Video & images: courtesy of International Creative Network (ICN) 

12 August 2013

Fashion in Motion: Jenny Packham

On Friday 19th July I had the day of any fashionista’s dreams. I was given the opportunity to volunteer for ‘Fashion in Motion’; a series of live catwalk events that take place within the beautiful backdrop of the V&A itself. Previous designers featured at the event include Alexander McQueen, KENZO and Stephen Jones. I was incredibly excited by the prospect of volunteering for this summer’s featured live series of catwalks from the brilliant designer Jenny Packham. I had heard of Jenny Packham before the day of the event, from snippets in fashion magazines on high society figures such as the Duchess of Cambridge, and celebrities like Taylor Swift. Nevertheless, I had never in a million years dreamed that I would be able to have a first hand experience of Jenny Packham’s collection on a catwalk, therefore I was both thrilled and a little nervous by the prospect of taking part on the day.

I was scheduled to help on three catwalk shows, at one o’clock, three o’clock and five o’clock; however I arrived at the V&A early in the morning to be instructed on my the schedule of the day. All the volunteers were instructed to dress in black (I opted for a classic little black dress), and on our arrival we were each given amazing vibrant orange fascinators to perch on top of our heads. These proved very popular with the museum visitors, who requested not only to take pictures, but also try on the little hats! After being told our duties of the day, to guide visitors to their seats, and provide any audience assistance throughout the fashion show; we took a seat on the front row to watch the run through of the show.

When I say that the dresses were stunning, I mean that they were some of the single most beautiful garments I have ever seen, and taking them down the catwalk in the V&A’s gorgeous Raphael gallery brought the dresses to life. All the volunteers were in complete awe as the models sauntered down the catwalk, every dress in the collection another stunning highlight of Jenny Packham’s collections from 1988 to today. It was magical.

After the run through, it was time to assist with the real thing. Visitors from all walks of life arrived; be it friends of Jenny Packham herself, to the general public, who would not normally be able to gain access to such a glamorous retrospective catwalk if it was not for this brilliant free event. As the fashionable audience took their rows, guided by myself and the other volunteers; the lights went down, the music came on, and the catwalk began. The show went like a dream, the entire audience was captivated, with sighs of ‘ooh’, and ‘ahh’, as each glittering, floaty and perfectly crafted number was paraded down the catwalk. Everyone had their favourite piece, but mine was the duck egg chiffon opening gown, complete with its sparkling neckline and sharply nipped in waist (above left).

The shows flew by, every one paying rightful homage to Jenny Packham’s incredible collection, and running smoothly (aside from one little trip over by a model!). Before I knew it I had helped with the three shows, and it was the end of my day.

I will never forget my day volunteering for Fashion in Motion. If I don’t have the same opportunity to help next year, I will certainly visit the event itself; it is so fantastic for the general public to be allowed entry to the so often elite world of high fashion. Set in the simply stunning backdrop of the Raphael gallery, I cannot imagine a more beautiful place and manner to display such gorgeous gowns.

For more information on Fashion in Motion, click here.
CreateVoice also recommends the short film about the event, available to watch on the V&A Channel here.

Words: Nicola Bligh
Images© V&A/Jenny Packham, Fashion in Motion, Friday 19th July 2013