Inspired by … is the V&A's annual art competition for people on part-time courses, and is supported by NIACE, the National Institute of Continuing Education. Participants create a work of art or craft inspired by the collections of either V&A South Kensington, or the V&A Museum of Childhood.
242 applicants entered the competition in 2008. They came from diverse backgrounds and from over 80 colleges and institutions nationally, and were encouraged by over 100 tutors in art, crafts and design. Some of them had never been to the Museum before but visited with their art group especially for the Inspired by… competition. Some entered from prison.
The entries were assessed by 23 curators, programme managers and prize donors. 37 artworks in different media made by students at all levels of skill were selected to go on display at the V&A and ten in the V&A Museum of Childhood, from 17 May to 29 June 2008.
Sara Fell for strong>O Precious
O Precious was made by Sara Fell during her Applied Arts Foundation Degree at Plymouth College of Art and Design.
'The glass cabochons in Keith Cumming's piece Windfall are 'set' like Egyptian jewels; cast scarabs. His combination of glass and metals has been intrinsic in my work, pushing the boundaries of both materials. The excitement of breaking open a mould, revealing the unpredictable.'
'Sara Fell's application shows her passion for the V&A and its collections. It fits in the 'Access' category as it illustrates how her course has played an important role in helping her to overcome her disability. Her piece is the result of extensive research and is a step on the path of the professional career that she wants to follow. It shows great skill and originality.'
Judge and prize donor: Matthieu Decraene, New Audience and Access Officer at the Louvre Museum, Paris
Ceramics Galleries Prize
Robert Mitchell for The College Bus
The College Bus was made by Robert Mitchell during his Developing Creative Studies class at Hinwick Hall College of Further Education for young people with disabilities and special needs.
‘Bobby chose this image because he is interested in all forms of travel. He thought that it would be a good idea to make the inside of the bus with his college friends as passengers.’
Bobby Mitchell made a bold and imaginative ceramic piece titled The College Bus, inspired by a photograph by David Goldblatt in the V&A's collection. The judges were particularly impressed by the way in which he interpreted a photograph in 3-D, by the radical colours used, and Bobby's choice to base the figures on his own friends.'
Winner 'Entrant of the Year'
Kelly Harcus for Eternal Elements
Eternal Elements was made by Kelly Harcus during her A Book of Your Own Class at Mary Ward Centre.
'I was awed by Lu Shengzhong's incredible paper cutting. I noticed that in spite of the significant changes in Chinese culture over the centuries, certain elements seem eternal. I picked up these threads in some modern pieces and tied them to the past with traditional touches such as the Mandarin calligraphy and traditional signature stamp. There is a page to illustrate each of these elements: earth, air, fire, water, spirituality, man.'
The judges loved what Kelly had to say about her experiences and so in her own words:
'This competition has made me realise that art can be created in all walks of life. Everyone's art has validity; it isn't restricted to a select group of 'real' artists... Through this competition I have begun to understand that my work has value outside my own experience and my enjoyment of the process. Art gives us a voice that can cross boundaries. For 'Inspired by...' I lifted my voice and took the opportunity to speak.'
The judges felt that Kelly's assessment of crossing boundaries and lifting voices perfectly suited the spirit of Adult Learners' Week and wished to congratulate her wholeheartedly for her beautifully crafted book: which represented not only her own impressive learning journey but also the strong contribution that museums can make to the learning journeys of all adults.
Judge and prize donor: Barry Norris, Assistant Publicity Co-ordinator at National Institute of Adult Continuing Education
Simon Davies for Yugen
Yugen was made by Simon Davies during his Glass Engraving class at Morley College.
'What initially inspired me was the rich colour of the kimono. There are echoes of this red/orange colour throughout the gallery. Clearly this is an important colour and if I was to create a piece that represented Japan as a whole, then I had to utilise it in some way.'
'I was immediately drawn to Simon's piece as the images supplied were clear and conveyed a sense of some of the unique qualities of the finished object. A degree of accomplished workmanship was evident and the supporting material was clear and relevant. The inspiration and influences were clearly defined and the maker's ambition was successfully realised. Many of the other candidates also showed some success in this and this made it a difficult decision. I congratulate Simon Davies on his success and wish all candidates every success with their future work, their continued, 'investment' in workmanship, and thank all at the V&A for the invitation to be involved in this event.'
Asia Prize & Richmond Adult Community College Outstanding Commitment Award
Ofelia Diaz for The Pagoda Hat
The Pagoda Hat was made by Ofelia Diaz during her Papier Maché class at Richmond Adult College.
'I took a picture of a friend with the 'Pagoda' display behind her. This visual image sparked off the inspiration to make The Pagoda Hat. I have also been inspired by Everything and Nothing made by Catherine Bertola as part of the 'Out of the Ordinary, Spectacular Craft' exhibition.'
This original and striking work was directly inspired by a photograph that the artist took while visiting the Chinese Export Gallery. In the photograph, a friend stands before a tall porcelain pagoda, so that the top of the pagoda appears to rest atop or spring from her head. It was this, somewhat comical, visual illusion which led to the creation of the work. At a glance, the hat is bold and strikingly imaginative. Upon closer inspection, the attention to detail and painstaking methods of construction are apparent. The papier-mâché, a largely underused and undervalued medium, used in the resulting work rivals the precious porcelain which inspired it and strengthens the sense of individuality surrounding this piece.
Richmond Adult Community College Outstanding Commitment Award
'Courage, determination and commitment are necessary in order to create unique extraordinary pieces and these characteristics have been demonstrated in the system and processes used when creating the piece The Pagoda Hat. This piece has been inspired by an old tradition from the Asian galleries and a new contemporary approach from the Spectacular Craft exhibition - the work of Catherine Bertola. Ofelia Diaz is able to combine these two traditions and at the same time give her own interpretation using traditional Mexican papier mache methods and recycling materials. So this year the Outstanding Commitment RACC Award goes to Ofelia Diaz for her piece The Pagoda Hat.'
Judge and prize donor: Marcella Montoya-Turnill, Tutor at Richmond Adult Community College
Jane Prentice for Heirloom Ring
Heirloom Ring was made by Jane Prentice during her Jewellery class at Morley College.
'I have always been fascinated by ritual and the art forms inspired by belief, and also the idea of keeping something precious for generations.'
'Jane Prentice was inspired by a variety of objects in the silver galleries, and produced a highly unusual and beautifully crafted Heirloom Ring.
It appears closely related to the ancient and precious objects associated with ritual in the V&A collections, yet it remains strikingly modern and inventive in its design, with a great attention to detail.'
Jolanta Jagiello for The Ship of Hell
The Ship of Hell was made by Jolanta Jagiello during her Exploring Sculpture class at Morley College.
'My artwork is inspired by the work Mountain of Hell, contorted bodies with their eyes and tongues hanging out. I do believe they are manifestations of hell on earth; the slave trade, child trafficking, racial genocide.'
Jolanta Jagiello's welded metal sculpture, The Ship of Hell, tackles the serious theme of the slave trade. 2007 commemorated the 200th anniversary of the 1807 Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, and contemporary artists have addressed the issue in many different ways. The judges thought that as well as being a thought-provoking piece, the ship has a creative and complex design, which makes excellent used of a variety of metalwork techniques including welding and etching.
Judges: Melissa Hamnet and Susanna Brown
Fashion and Textiles Prize
Jenifer Midgley for Ripples
Ripples was made by Jenifer Midgley during her Weaving class at Hounslow Adult and Community Education
'Patterns and shapes from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods often suggest weave patterns and structure.'
'In this intricately pleated scarf, inspiration has imaginatively transposed the ornament of a vase in brittle, press-moulded glass into a fluid swathe of rayon.
The wave pattern, frozen in motion on the hard glass, is translated into soft pleats, whose subtle colouring and complex, controlled movement suggest the ripples left on sand by the movement of an outgoing tide. It admirably represents the aspirations of 'Inspired by…'; and in its turn it is inspirational. The aesthetic appeal of the scarf is matched by its technical expertise and we were impressed by the strength of the maker's concept and her ability to realise it.'
Judges: Sonnet Stanfill and Edwina Ehrman
Natasha Tonkin for drop-earring
This drop earring was made by Irena Molnarfi during her Jewellery class at Morley College.
'The two colossal women running on the beach gave me the idea of adding some adornment to their beach outfit. An earring 'bigger than life' floating in the wind on the hair, like a sea wave, glittering in the sun.'
The Theatre Collections' judges were struck by the elegant simplicity of this design and the artist's intuitive response to the expression of movement in the Picasso Image.'
Judges: Gillian Brownson, Adrian Deakes and Vicky Broackes
Prize donor: Encore tickets
Museum of Chilhood Prize
Catherine Hall for If You Go Down to the Woods Today…
If You Go Down to the Woods Today… was made by Catherine Hall during her BA Fine Art class at Northbrook College.
'The aspect of the stories that interests me is that of the power in them (use and abuse) and using the iconic figures in a new way. The push-along dog, became the push-along wolf, having lost his power.'
'We selected Ms. Hall's water-colour and crayon sketch depicting a modern interpretation of the classic fairy tale Red Riding Hood as the Inspired By winner at the V& A Museum of Childhood.
The judging panel agreed that Ms. Hall's aim to explore issues of 'power' in fairy tales by using iconic figures in a new way was both unique and exciting. Using a push-along toy dog for inspiration, the Big Bad Wolf is relegated to a passive role in the illustration which shows Red Riding Hood pushing along a toy wolf.
Although the submission was a preliminary sketch for an oil painting, the panel felt the work showed very good technical ability and skill. The use of crayon also links the piece with children's artwork.
In all, we were very impressed by the balance of intellectual and technical achievement this work represents and are happy to display Ms. Hall's artwork, and that of the other applicants, at V&A Museum of Childhood.'
Judges: Carolyn Chinn, Catherine Howell and Teresa Hare Duke
Word and Image Prize
Caroline Langton for Elegy
Elegy was made by Caroline Langton during her Printmaking class at Heatherley's School of Fine Art.
'This sculpture inspired me because of its exquisite simplicity and beauty.'
'We have chosen the woodcarving and print because we find it is an original work, it is skillfully made.
It gives an artistic interpretation of the motive, shows a mature use of source of inspiration, the formal expression is kept straight forward and shows a clear, readable illustration with a high level of artistic quality and finally - it works both as an illustration and as an art work.'
Judges: Susan Owens, Abraham Thomas, Leslie Ann Schmidt and Anna Krogh
A prize was also awarded to Carolyn Dinan, illustration tutor at Kensington & Chelsea College and Putney School of Art for the most inspiring tutor.
The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) offered £100 in vouchers towards the Benefit of Learning winner.