31 October 2012

V&A CreateVoice presents...Creativity in the City

Have a look at the programme here


30 October 2012

Printmaking for Creativity in the City

CreateVoice has had a very busy couple of weeks - workshops and filming galore, and some amazing work has been produced for our event this Friday, 'CreateVoice+ presents... Creativity in the City'. These pictures were taken during Sunday's workshop with Jimmy Turrell and Kate Gibb, using a risograph printer and silk-screen processes to create work for the main entrance, which we're very excited about!

To see the work that the ideas in the pictures developed into, come down to the V&A on Friday from 6pm-9pm in the main entrance and the Sackler Centre.

Laura Blair
Images by Laura Blair (apart from second and fourth by Kate Gibb)

23 October 2012

Createvoice+ presents... Creativity in the City: Suky Best

Still from 'The Marble Hall' 2011 | Still from 'The Flowers of the Mansion' 2009 | Still from 'Early Birds' | Suky Best at an interview at Animate Projects

The final artist for our collaborations for 'Creativity in the City' is innovative filmmaker Suky Best. Suky's work featured this year on the Canary Wharf Big Screen as part of the government initiative 'Art on the Underground' and has been shown all over the country. Often known for her clever use of two dimensional images within three dimensional ideas of space within her films, her work is space-based and so very apt for the location of the Victoria and Albert musum. We're very excited to be working with her to create films for the evening. Come along and find out for yourselves what we're been getting up to with her:

CreateVoice+ presents... Creativity in the City
November 2nd 2012

Laura Blair
Images of work courtesy of Suky Best
Image of Suky Best courtesy of Animate Projects

13 October 2012

CreateVoice+ presents 'Creativity in the City': Banke Kuku

The next artist working with Createvoice for CreateVoice+ presents... Creativity in the city is textiles designer Banke Kuku, also based in the Great Western Studios. Banke's innovative approach to pattern design and colour palette contribute to her massive success within the industry, including at Burberry, and more recently at the Milan furniture fair. We'll be working with Banke to create a piece of work to be shown in the museum and a workshop for the public on the night of the 2nd of November.

CreateVoice+ presents... Creativity in the City
November 2nd 2012

Laura Blair
Images courtesy of Banke Kuku

08 October 2012

Kitty and the Bulldog: Lolitas at the V&A

On the 5th of May 2012 the Victoria and Albert Museum was host to a group of over one hundred Lolitas for an event alongside the Kitty and the Bulldog exhibition, celebrating the Lolita fashion subculture and its variants. If there's one thing to know about the followers of this fashion trend, it's that they never go unnoticed! First originating in the Harajuku district of Japan, the trend takes its main influence from the high necklines and modest hemlines of Victorian Britain, over a century after the era ended and nearly six thousand miles away. Given the roots of Lolita in the Victorian era, it seemed only fitting for the Lolitas to hold their tea party at the V&A (despite the rain), complete with a visit to the exhibition itself.
Despite originating in Japan, online forums have created a community of dedicated Lolitas from all around Britain, co-ordinating and attending events around the country. As one of the girls we spoke to noted, since the rise of the internet the subculture has spread and developed rapidly over the last decade, whereas previously the fashion was limited to specific magazines such as the Gothic and Lolita Bible quarterly. Since the increase of the trend's popularity, Japanese retailers began shipping overseas and the trend has transformed into one of a more elastic variety - some of the Lolitas that we spoke to said that they now seldom follow the 'rules' of the trend, instead adapting them in order for their outfits to reflect their individual personalities.
We spoke to some of the Lolitas about their fashion choices, and found that there are plenty of do's and don'ts in the world of Lolita fashion. All of them spoke about the importance of quality of the material, helping to distinguish the fashion as a style, as opposed to a costume. There are many websites detailing the typical 'anatomy' of a Lolita outfit: all are insistent on the hemline being no shorter than slightly above the knee. With the focus being on modesty and prettiness, the Lolitas generally wear gloves, tights or frilly socks, beautiful headpieces and jewellery, and adorn their dresses with lace. Bloomers are also generally seen as requisite -  one Lolita from Dorset exclaimed, "I'm not wearing them now, but I should be!"
There is the obvious connection with Vladimir Nabokov's novel 'Lolita', which one of the girls acknowledged could be seen to be a worry for some who don't know the trend. She commented that despite knowing the trend had nothing to do with the novel, the verbal association sometimes made her nervous because her boyfriend is a little older than her. On seeing a Lolita for yourself, though, there is no doubt that the style focuses on modesty and prettiness, not on emulating extreme youth. Three Lolitas spoke about presumptions made about them simply because of their dress. Many might assume that Lolitas tend to be art students, but there was a range of professions across the Lolitas, with one of them currently studying Biochemistry. They also spoke about people touching their clothing or taking pictures without asking, or presuming that they were wanting attention (no matter negative or positive) because of their style, and being asked strange questions like "Are you Dutch?" or "Is it your birthday?". However for a trend which may outwardly seem so extreme, reactions the Lolitas described were on the whole incredibly positive. All of the Lolitas were unanimous in one area: elderly ladies are big fans of the Lolita fashion, often commenting on its prettiness and modesty. The Lolitas certainly attracted a lot of positive attention at the museum!
We were curious to know a little more about their individual styles and how they first discovered it was something they were interested in. The ways that the Lolitas had come to find the fashion varied greatly. One, a 25 year old illustrator, was researching quirky trends for her fashion designs when she came across the style, fell in love with feeling 'cute and modest' and has never looked back. Though dressed as a 'Classic' Lolita for the tea party, her general style is that of a 'Gothic' Lolita, which she interchanges with other alternative styles such as Fairy Kei and Gyaru. However, she felt that once she reached twenty-five she might have to 'graduate' from the alternative styles. A lot of the Lolitas seemed to feel this way, but one Lolita told us that at thirty she'd decided to throw all her 'normal' clothes away, and become a full time Lolita! One eighteen-year old Lolita from South Wales cited that her interest came from watching the Harajuku Girls in Gwen Stefani's music videos. A classic Lolita from Bath felt that the immediate aesthetic appeal of the clothes was what drew her to the style - a sentiment echoed by many of the others. Many of the Lolitas said that they had been led to the style through Goth and anime websites, finding the classic tailoring and instantly recognisable silhouette exciting and different from the high street, whose clothes are "not really made for an hourglass shape" as one rightly pointed out.

Visitors at the museum on the day were extremely appreciative of the Lolitas and their outfits, complimenting them and asking for pictures. If you weren’t there don’t feel like you missed out! The V&A’s Kitty and Bulldog exhibition displays the many types of Lolita dress and its history in the Toshiba Gallery. It is up until 27th of January 2013, so there’s plenty of time to go enjoy this fascinating fashion trend.

Laura Blair, Novuyo Moyo, Ayesha Singh
Images courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum

04 October 2012

CreateVoice's Favourite Objects: Diptych

Object: Diptych pendant
Place of origin: North Germany (made)
Date: 1450-1480
Maker: Unknown
Museum Number: 213-1874
Location: Jewellery Gallery, room 91, case 52, shelf A, box 9

I came across this diptych pendant whilst browsing in the beautiful jewellery gallery. Jewellery is a huge love of mine and it was pretty hard to narrow down a favourite item in there, let alone in the museum as a whole! I study English Literature at university, and after a lecture at the museum on the Medieval era I began to become very interested in the idea of affective piety and devotional aids. 
One of the books I studied was Book of Margery Kempe; it is considered to be one of the first autobiographies in the English language, written around the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century. As Margery was illiterate, she dictated her life story to two monks who fashioned her experiences and pilgrimages into the book that we know today. Throughout the book she has extreme reactions to her 'visitations' and experiences with God, and often becomes hysterical at the thought of Christ on the cross or the suffering of Mary.
This kind of piety was popular at this time, particularly among women - the Virgin Mary was venerated and worshipped alongside Christ, in what is often referred to today as 'the cult of the Virgin'. Worshippers often carried small 'aids' to help their piety, such as images like the ones carved into the diptychs on this locket. All of the scenes on the pendant include Mary, sometimes as the forefront of the image. The intricacy of this piece is what stunned me most - it is dated at around AD1450-1480, making it around 550 years old, and it survives in near-perfect condition. It would have been owned by someone very wealthy, as indicated by the highly ornamental silver and stunning blue basse taille enamel work. It's a truly beautiful object and I'd definitely recommend seeing it in person: no photo can do it justice!
Hail, Queen of Mercy | My Lord and my God | Hail blessed Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary | I commend me to thee, pious virgin and mother
- an English translation of the Latin verse inscribed on the exterior of the pendant

Laura Blair
Images courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum online archives