22 April 2016

Making It 2016

#MakingIt16 was a huge success! Our talks were attended by a total of nearly three thousand young people, and our feedback was great. Highlights of the day included the ever-popular Portfolios and Online Presence, as well as our talk about being a freelancer and Kieran Long's lecture about Creative Futures. If you attended, you can share your thoughts or photos via the #MakingIt16 hashtag on Twitter or Instagram - we'd love to know what you thought, so we can make the next Making It even better.

We've got plenty coming up at the museum for young people: CreateInsights with architect/designer Alex Smith; costume design; fashion blogging; and the Samsung Digital Classroom sessions. Click here to find out more!

Laura Blair

04 March 2016

Featured artists at #MakingIt16

Background: still from 'Butterfly House' by Jamie Jenkinson
Left: Photography by Danny Baldwin
Middle top: illustration by Alexa Galea
Middle bottom: hand carved spoons by Sophie Sellu (Grain and Knot)
Right: piece from Jane Bowler's AW13 collection

Making It is drawing ever closer - tomorrow, Saturday 5th March, we'll be exploring the huge variety of careers in the creative sector, and giving advice about how to make it in one of the most exciting industries around. We're very lucky to have several talented young artists joining us to share their work and experiences. Come along and have a look at the displays and hear from creative professionals about how you can make it, too.

Find the full programme here.
Making It 2016 runs from 11am-5pm; all events are free.

12 February 2016

Making It: Careers in Art and Design 2016

It's been a little quiet on the CreateVoice blog of late, but behind the scenes, CreateVoice members have been busy working with V&A staff to create our next event for the public.

Our group is made up of a wide variety of people of different ages, backgrounds and with an array of interests: but we're all united by the fact that we are creative. Whilst we're all at different stages of our careers, most of us have experienced the difficulties which can come with trying to break into the creative industries, and carve our own niche in the field.

Making It is an Victoria and Albert Museum event put on especially for young people aged 16-24 looking to enter a creative career - helping them to shape their future by providing insider knowledge. We're covering a huge range of topics: from fashion, product design and even silversmithing, to setting up a business, to creating your CV, portfolio and online presence. There will be talks and demonstrations from a host of industry professionals - including Scarlett Conlon (News Editor for Vogue), Beth McKillop (Deputy Director of the V&A) and Lisa Pickering (one of the organisers from Glastonbury) - as well as other young people who've already made it.

Pop down to the V&A on Saturday 5th March from 11am until 5pm for advice and inspiration. All events are free and drop in - take a look at the schedule below to see what might interest you!

Illustration: Priya Sundram
Words: Laura Blair

02 July 2015

CreateInsights: Staging Alexander McQueen

During the last CreateVoice meeting we met Rachel Murphy, Exhibitions Manager at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Rachel is currently working on the infamous Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A. 

Portrait of Alexander McQueen, 1997 photographed by Marc Hom

Rachel started her career studying literature in Glasgow, which resulted in her working as an Exhibition Officer whilst still in Scotland. Through her work at smaller galleries Rachel was able to become experienced in many fields and gain a broad understanding of the various roles within a museum, before becoming an Exhibitions Assistant at the V&A some 6 years ago. Since then she has been involved in many of the exhibitions that the V&A has held in South Kensington and also those that have toured around the world. 

Contrary to the more traditional course of an exhibition (starting in South Kensington and then touring), Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty actually originated at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It opened in 2011, just over a year after McQueen passed away. Therefore, some time has passed since it was felt appropriate for the exhibition to come to McQueen’s home town of London.

There has always been an association with McQueen and the Victoria and Albert Museum, as he stated himself: ‘The collections at the V&A never fail to intrigue and inspire me.’ Therefore some changes were made to make full use of the space in the V&A to display and respect McQueen’s work to the upmost. These included adding 66 new pieces, enlarging Pepper’s Ghost, a 3D hologram of Kate Moss and creating new galleries: Romantic Primitivism and London.

Coiled corset. The Overlook, Autumn/Winter 1999. Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen

It was enlightening to hear from Rachel about all the different aspects that she had to consider when constructing this exhibition. For example: liaising with the Met to ensure that they were happy with any changes, analysing contracts and agreements with third parties who would may loan objects or construct the physical galleries within the exhibition space, the safety and security of the objects, the transport and insurance of loaned items, the text to accompany the garments and the maintenance and take down of the exhibition.

These tasks increased dramatically on the run up to the opening of the exhibition meaning that the team expanded from one person to around 3-4. The exhibitions team would work with various departments such as the Press department, the curators and fortunately for us the Learning Team! As a result, the McQueen exhibition has also provided avenues for the museum and visitors to explore, including specialised talks and tours linked to the exhibition.

I feel privileged to have seen Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the V&A and to hear from Rachel firsthand about all the hard work, time and thought that has gone into making it an amazing experience and one that does justice to the late designer.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty remains open until 2 August 2015, although tickets are now limited. 

Lottie attended the monthly CreateInsights meeting for CreateVoice members in June, to check out upcoming Insights for the youth collective head to http://www.vam.ac.uk/page/c/create/  

Words by: Lottie Moss
Images: © Marc Hom/Trunk Archive and the Victoria and Albert Museum

19 June 2015

Indian Summer workshop at Glastonbury Festival

Last year, the V&A acquired the Glastonbury Archive from the Eavis family,This year, CreateVoice were given the opportunity to get involved with a public workshop for festival goers at Glastonbury. The workshop would be based around the upcoming India Festival at the Museum, and in particular the 'Fabric of India' exhibition, the first major exhibition to explore handmade Indian textiles from as early as AD300. Over several meetings with members of CreateVoice and the V&A staff, we developed our project - and next week we'll be delivering it at the festival!

During our development session with artist Jasleen Kaur, we decided to base our festival workshop on something that the museum's South Asian textile collection and Glastonbury have in common: tents. A recurring item in the V&A collection are tent hangings - so we decided we'd use the workshop to make our own - one of a contemporary design, and one featuring more traditional motifs. In our meeting with artist Alexa Galea, we took a wander around the museum's Nehru gallery, taking inspiration from the South Asian collection's textiles and artwork, and we also paid a visit to the British contemporary galleries to gather ideas for the contemporary hanging. Having gathered all of our research, images from the collections, previous Glastonbury materials and other design ideas, we then created mood boards (seen above!) from which Alexa created the design for our final tent hanging backdrop. 

On the day, visitors at the festival will be able to make their own decorations for us to attach to the hangings - flora and fauna for the more traditionally inspired, and contemporary items, shapes and patterns for the other! We're going to be in the Field of Avalon, so if you're at the festival pop by and say hello!

The Indian Summer workshop is free to the public, Wednesday 24th June - Sunday 28th June in the Avalon Cafe Tent at Glastonbury Festival

Click through for more information on the items below:
Indigo cotten tent hanging with silk embroidery, late C18th or early C19th, western India
Block printed & painted cotton tent hanging, late C18th, Burhanpur, India
Red cotton tent hanging with silk embroidery, early C18th, northern India

Words: Laura Blair
Image 1: Laura Blair
Image 2, 3 & 4: courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum

03 March 2015

Slow Journalism at the V&A: Protest and Dissent

The Slow Journalism Night at the V&A: Protest and Dissent was hosted by V&A Connects and Delayed Gratification to coincide with Disobedient Objects, the V&As recent exhibition on protest, political art, communication and revolutionary artefacts.

Delayed Gratification is a British publication that was established in 2010. As a publication their aim is to return to media stories three months after they were originally covered to see how the story and situation has developed. So rather than slow journalism it could just as easily be referred to as fast history.

The evening speakers included contributing journalists and photographers from Delayed Gratification. The evening began with journalist Alan Rutter who discussed the concept of Digital Dissent, he was followed by journalist Sakhir Al-Makhadhi who explored the Arab Spring and finally photographer Ed Thompson who covered the Occupy Movement.

Some of the stories covered in recent editions of Delayed Gratification have included insights into Anonymous. Many features have been written about this group of Guy Fawkes mask-wearing bandits who possess the determination to bring down enormous corporations. Delayed Gratification have also covered Wikileaks, exploring the footage of diplomatic cables that have been leaked into the public domain and its subsequent impact.

Alan Rutter reflected on some of the international stories he had uncovered for Delayed Gratification, which have included a lively account on a Mexican standoff.  He recounted a story where a notorious drug cartel were responsible for the murder of journalists and bloggers for publishing information on those involved in their illegal activity. This lead to the cartel taking a journalist hostage. Because a lot of officials involved were corrupt it made it harder for authorities and governments to respond appropriately. Anonymous took charge of the situation by declaring to have information on the cartels political, authoritative and financial associates and threatened to release this to the public. This extraordinarily resulted in the cartel releasing the hostage.

Rutter explained the value of making the mainstream aware. He referred back to Anonymous describing how their unidentified status affords them power. He explained the power of being faceless and explained the importance of collaborative work and a collective ethos, clarifying that individuals dont have the power of institutions. In regards to newspapers he cited The New York Times and The Guardian as examples of publications that have journalists that are able to bring controversial stories to light but have the security of a larger publication backing them. Rutter concluded by noting that with anonymity, there is both the temptation of being unknown but that its power can also be easily misused.

Sakhir Al-Makhadhi primarily spoke about the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan and examined what the story of the camp tells us about the Arab Spring. Zaatari is the worlds fourth largest refugee camp. It was originally opened in July 2012 to host Syrians fleeing from the bloodshed and ferocity of the ongoing Syrian civil war that began back in 2011. Today there are currently 84,615 refugees living on site and has grown into the nations fourth largest city. Zaatari hosts the biggest radio show in Jordan embracing free speech, so in some ways the camp provides a democratic platform for uncensored expression.

Al-Makhadhi explained the many hardships and complications faced with residents and the loss of control that they experienced when they first moved into the camp, as they thought it was a temporary position rather than an ongoing living framework. At the beginning, this caused a lot of tension between the refugees and the aid workers as the refugees were living in awful conditions and many verbalized that they were dying a slow death (Ali and Mohsen residents of the camp) whilst others vented their frustration through violence due to their fury at the living conditions.

Al-Makhadhi spoke from first-hand experience when he acknowledged the many changes in the running of Zaatari which came in being when Kilian Kleinschmidt was hired by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Kleinschmidt was brought in to help stop the spiral of chaos in Zaatari. Al-Makhadhi explained how Kleinschmidts unorthodox approach soothed the brutality and calmed the violence.

Kleinschmidt is certainly not a typical UN official. He chose to live away from his family with the residents of the camp so that he could relate to the population of Zaatari that he became responsible for. For the duration of his position he spent three evenings a week walking around the campsite talking to residents to gain an insight into their visions for Zaatari. Under Kleinschmidts supervision of the camp a huge internal economy developed. The camp grew from 30,000 inhabitants to 120,000 in one year - which exemplifies how he had transformed the camp. Zaatari became so successful that people wanted to return rather than escape. Kleinschmidt made it a better space as he provided an infrastructure to those living in what could be seen as a city in exile.

Ed Thompson was the final speaker, he considered the Occupy movement with an authentic understanding. For the duration of Occupy London, Thompson spent each night on site photographing. The imagery he presented captured the diversity of Occupy, as much of his work dealt with perception and reality. Thompson explained how sensationalist imagery gets attention and as a result of the digital age it is crucial for photographers to shoot local, think global. Thompson was keen to encourage the audience to consider the importance of an idea and he claimed you cant evict an idea.

The evening provided a great insight into the impact journalism has on a movement. It gave the audience the opportunity to reflect on the importance of continuing to read up about ongoing struggles. It made it clear to the audience that despite a story no longer being the most prominent feature in the news, it doesnt mean the issue has been resolved. Delayed Gratification provides a platform for the untold stories giving a voice to those that need to be heard.

Grace attended the Slow Journalism event as a member of CreateVoice. To find out more about the opportunities with the V&A youth collective email create@vam.ac.uk 

Words: Grace Radford
Images: © Delayed Gratification

20 February 2015

Disobedient Objects: John Pilger in conversation with Robin Denselow

Taking place on 9th December, John Pilger in conversation with Robin Denselow was programmed as part of a series of events celebrating Disobedient Objects, the V&As recent exhibition on protest, political art, communication and revolutionary artefacts.

John Pilger is a global broadcaster, journalist, writer and correspondent, and has written a series of books and articles, as well as directing and producing films on war, protest, and indigenous people. Harold Pinter declared that Pilger "unearths, with steely attention facts, the filthy truth. I salute him."

The evening comprised a conversation between Pilger and fellow broadcaster and journalist Robin Denselow, who described Pilger as one of the most distinguished, most controversial of his generation. Their discussion spanned topics which Pilger had covered during his career, from the Vietnam war, through to Aboriginal victims, Wikileaks and other key political moments. He discussed with passion, the role and moral obligations of the journalist.

Building on the V&As theme of Disobedient Objects, Pilger asserted that if you're not disobedient as a journalist, you're not a journalist.  And to reduce his eloquent discourse to a simple quote, he argued that one of the most important moral qualities that a journalist should possess is to question above all power that imposes itself on us ensuring that power is accountable to the people. Pilger firmly believes that not enough journalists today do this.

John Pilger in his first film

Prior to reflecting on his career, Pilger talked of his initial fascination with newspaper as a child, he had an attraction to the romance of journalism, making sense of the world and other people, This embedded in him an understanding of the way the world works, and the power of the media which gave him an insight into how privileged the Western World can be.

Pilger talked of his extensive travels as a journalist, which included South East Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. He described the chaos of thekilling fields and the free fire zones of the Vietnam War, talking of his interviews with soldiers and combatants and the mechanics of war reporting. He discussed the self-imposed censorship exemplified by journalists and how the questions this war raised for journalists are still pertinent today.  He spoke also about the role of television reporting and how this visually impacted on America, in that it changed attitudes to the war by showing the worthlessness of all suffering, and contributed to the rise of the anti-war movement around the country.

Referencing the Iraq War, he continued his comments on the duty of the journalists by suggesting that [the war] was a fraud and questioned why people in studios, in these countries, didn't... ask the questions? as he felt that could have brought more answers to light as to why the regime of Bush and Blair enabled the invasion to happen. With tremendous devotion he considered the importance of freedom of speech and claimed that the institutional media buckled and ultimately failed to serve the publics best interests. He continued with this line of enquiry, questioning whether the role of the journalist in effect ultimately promotes war.

The  saturation of the 24-hour information age and the constant immediacy of social media to Pilger is a distraction, social media is not journalism, and he advocated for those within the system who were whistle blowers, considering them essential to the craft of the journalist.  He decried the repetitive media and technology that gives the impression that we have a world of information, a world of news, whereas in reality all we have is a world of repetition.

Pilger concluded his inspiring talk, remarking that “society that has the privileges, needs to come up with the answers” and in order for us to move forward as a society, we need to develop an awareness of what is wrong with the world so that we can develop and improve.

Grace attended the John Pilger: In Conversation event as a member of CreateVoice. To find out more about the opportunities with the V&A youth collective email create@vam.ac.uk.

Words: Grace Radford
Image: © John Pilger