Working every day in a storehouse of treasures never tires and neither does thinking of ways to use them in our workshops. Design the World is a project with an ambitious title but it also hints at the potential of the Museum’s collections and connects objects inside the building with the world outside the building. Over five Sunday afternoons, Virtual School pupils are meeting designers, exploring the collections, and making their own original creations to take home. By the end of the project, we hope the group feels that the Museum is theirs to explore any time they want and it’s an ongoing source of wonder and inspiration. We’ve created the project in partnership with the Virtual School teams from Hammersmith and Fulham, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster.
Our first workshop in July focussed on photography. Armed with cameras, the group captured details in the grand Victorian architecture that others may overlook – collecting images of elaborate ceiling decorations, mosaic floor tiles and finely carved ornamentation. With the help of artist and photographer Miriam Baez, the group then made photo-sensitive paper to create cyanotypes, a kind of ‘cameraless’ photograph. The final step in the workshop was to transform a plain white box frame into an artwork, using their cyanotypes.
In September, the group worked with the V&A’s current ceramicist-in-residence, Matt Raw. Our inspiration for this session was the spectacular Cast Courts, which never fail to dazzle. Everyone chose a favourite panel to sketch from Trajan’s Column (the original is in Rome and was made in 113AD), and bronze doors from the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela in Spain (the originals date to 1188). Inspired by these scenes, the group were challenged to design their own story panel. We returned to the Ceramics Studio with our sketches and learnt a few techniques for working with clay before we made our final ceramic piece.
We feel it’s important to have a permanent record of Design the World, so every session will be summarised in a small leaflet, which has lovely photos of what we did, what we made, and then some ideas about what to do next. Downloadable versions of Session 1: Photography and Session 2: Ceramics have been formatted for printing. Our next session is in November with artist Jasleen Kaur – the subject of a future blog post!