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.
153 applicants entered the competition this year. They came from diverse backgrounds and from over 30 colleges and institutions nationally, and were encouraged by over 80 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 12 curators, programme managers and prize donors. 49 artworks in different media made by students below level 4/ degree foundation level were selected to go on display at the V&A and 14 at the V&A Museum of Childhood, from 9 May to 4 July 2009.
James Foram for Survivor
Survivor was made by James Foram during his Ceramics class at HMP Erlestoke.
'Legends of mermaids and the sea told in different ways inspired my work. Details like tail and hair particularly interest me.'
'We were very impressed by James's imaginative approach to his work and how the inspiration from a picture of the V&A's Burghley Nef, enable James to create a whole underwater world in clay. He has obviously put a lot of time and creative thought into this piece.'
Benefit of Learning Prize (awarded by National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education)
Sharon Glass for Ikebana Neckpiece
'I was immediately drawn to the exquisite workmanship and the beautiful designs of the kimono on display.'
'Sharon Glass's beautiful Ikebana Neckpiece was inspired by the Kimono and the culture and history surrounding it…. Sharon's application really shows the impact that learning can have as an adult, and the contribution that museums can make to learning for everyone. She says 'My course has become my passion and a major focus having been home for some years taking care of children. It has enriched my life immeasurably and entirely altered the way I see the world and relate to everything around me. I think the biggest benefit is how they have helped me gain confidence, hopefully in turn I can be an inspiration to my children.'
Ceramics Galleries Prize
Avantika Katoria for Antelope Capital vases
'I visited the V&A Museum and I saw the work there which is really magnificent and I thought I should do something like that in clay, which I am very fond of'
'The Antelope Capital vases incorporate the simplicity of design and natural finish of material that are evident in the Uzbek Column Capital that inspired them. The maker has translated the V&A's object's rich, turquoise, intricate decoration and smooth glazing into a cream-coloured, zoomorphic composition. The sobriety and the motif of the antelope recall Mesopotamian antiques, while retaining a thoroughly modern feel.'
Caroline Platt for Shellac the Tulip & Float the Glass
'I was inspired by the curved ceiling in the Architecture room, with its apparently floating quality (not fixed to the wall); the glass sculpture with the glass horizontals not attached to the verticals on various plane'
'This table shows how an idea, in this case using optical illusion to create an impression of 'floating' parts, can be observed in one discipline such as architecture and applied to another. The table is also pleasingly well-made and with the addition of a glass top, would function well as a piece of furniture.'
Cathryn Shillin for Memory Surfing
'I was inspired by the extraordinary image of The Great Wave to produce a piece which would also capture a moment in time and in a particular place - like a memory, which is both concealed and revealed at once.'
'At first what appears to be an object formed simply of blue translucent glass, upon closer inspection, reveals ghostly transferred photographs which add nuance and mystery to the meaning of this piece. Just as Hokusai captured a fleeting moment of time and crashing movement in The Great Wave, the snapshots of Memory Surfings, set in undulating glass, evoke memories that appear to be both fleeting and frozen in time.'
Andrew Higgens for Behind the Icon
'I have been interested in Ganesh for some years. I am aware that gods do not exist and are projected by humans. So they originate with humans and must be as full of emotions as human beings.'
'We chose this piece for the clear inspiration it took from the Ganesh figure in the Asian Department's collection. We were delighted by the way the artist used this to communicate his own ideas on the nature of gods in an inventive manner. We found this work particularly engaging as each panel captured and conveyed a different emotion very successfully.'
Sharhin-Azar-Azirani for Destiny and Eternity
'I found the magnificent layout and the informative way in which historical eras have been presented in the V&A so enjoyable. I strongly believe in astrology and the concepts which are involved in this particular piece have special meaning to me.'
'The Destiny and Eternity bracelet directly relates to the astrolabe that inspired it, in both shape and material. The artist has incorporated the meaning of the object into the finished piece and emphasizes the impact of astrology and its spiritual implications onto the wearer of this virtuoso piece of metalwork.'
Kate Brummitt for The Christening Party
'I thought the holy kin did not look very interested in being recorded for posterity- several of them looked as though their minds were elsewhere. I wondered how a modern family might look posing in a similar situation - at a christening perhaps.'
'The Christening Party is a modernization of the The Holy Kinship that inspired it. Incorporating a sense of familial warmth and yet disjointed interaction between the figures, this painting brings about a humorous and whimsical adaptation of the theme by conjuring a familiar scene of an otherwise fragmented family brought together for a heart-warming event.'
Museum of Childhood Prize
Sandra Haddock for Where is Wezigone
'I was inspired by the length of time children took to do up and undo fastening on material panels. The range of toys was incredible through the ages and children loved things they could do, make or see expressions they made.'
'The judges at the Museum of Childhood felt this was a playful, inventive and creative response to our children's clothing collection. It was good to see inspiration taken from one of the less obvious areas of our collection, and we particularly appreciated the colourful and tactile nature of the work which makes it appealing on many levels both to adults and to children.'
Word and Image Prize
Lara French for John the Baptist
'My artwork has been inspired by the John the Baptist from the Medieval/Cast room at the V&A. I have been inspired by researching from a sketch and have designed a positive relief image onto woodblock into a negative relief print.'
'I would like to congratulate Lara for the originality of her work and her great technical skill. The delicate and mature treatment of her source of inspiration as well as the amount of thought and care that went into the design process is impressive. Her print conveyed wonderfully and very elegantly the organic sense of growth of the piece that inspired her.'
Word and Image Book Prize
Laura Caiafa for V&A ABC book
'I visited the Museum of Childhood and many, many items caught my attention, I could not decide on just one or two key inspirations. Everything was clear then, the idea of developing the V&A ABC Book was born!'
'Laura's ABC book is wonderful in many ways, not only is it delightfully witty but the quality of craftsmanship is outstanding.
Laura's imaginative and skilfully executed work shows her interest in the V&A's collections and the amount of thought and care that went into her book testifies to her profound engagement with the pieces that inspired and informed her work.'
Brenda Gibson for Please Plisse Me
‘The beautiful fluidity of movement expressed in Power’s image of the staircase immediately resonated with me in textile terms. It provided a powerful inspiration to interpret the essence of the image in a hand-woven textile.’
'Brenda Gibson’s Please Plisse Me represents an innovative take on Cyril Edward Power’s 1929 print of the staircase at Russell Square tube station. The folded textile, with its gathered centre panel, illustrates the maker’s clever use of a complex weaving and heat treatment process. Draped to create a dynamic, spiral shape, Gibson’s woven piece echoes the colour, form and movement of Power’s print in a lively and imaginative way.'
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.