199 applicants entered the competition this year. They came from diverse backgrounds and from 40 colleges and institutions nationally, and were encouraged by over 90 tutors in art, crafts and design.
The entries were assessed by a total of 15 curators, programme managers, designers and prize donors. 44 artworks in different media made by students were selected to go on display in the Sackler Centre at the V&A from 6 October 2012 – 21 April 2013.
Prizes were given in the following categories:
- Benefit of Learning
- Stained Glass
- Metalwork and Jewellery
- Textiles and Fashion
- Theatre and Performance
- V&A Museum of Childhood
- Word and Image
- A prize was also awarded to Westminster Adult Education Services for the most inspiring college
'If found my inspiration in the British galleries among the display of sumptuous finery. The Mantua court dress in particularly caught my attention, mainly for its incredibly impractical shape which exaggerates the hips using a square cage.'
'Take an 18th century dress and turn it into a stoneware vessel? René Viner has achieved just that and has created a stunning ceramic work of art. She has been able to see artistic possibilities within a museum object and to realise those possibilities in a different medium. She shows great promise in her ability to work with clay and to create different textures with it.'
'The pleats in the 'Honey-Pop' chair inspired me to explore how I too could work with paper. I discovered that by crumpling and pleating the paper, I could make 3D models around which I could build a refractory mould to cast glass. By using the burn-out techniques, I was able to retain the delicacy and detail of the pleated paper that had first inspired me.'
'Isabella Kullmann, a beginner student in glass working, demonstrates a keen understanding of the properties of glass and the skills required to manipulate it. It is astonishing that she had the confidence in her ability to render the flexible properties of paper into an inflexible glass form, but she achieves this and has created a truly lovely piece.'
Stained Glass Prize
'Whenever I visit the V&A, it's true to say I feel inspired to create art. I occasionally sketch various shapes and lines which I find appealing and often find that these are incorporated into my pieces – either by accident or design. I particularly like curvy, organic, flowing lines, such as those on the draped gowns of classical sculpture and Buddhas.’
'Caroline Platt has created a framed coloured glass panel. Her artistic choice of colours and arrangement delight the eye and her lead-working shows a solid understanding of the medium. The frame she has created is an organic celebration of the beauty in wood grain and is an outstanding complement to the glass it contains.'
‘When I saw the chest of drawers I began to think three dimensionally. The two chairs triggered me into thinking about ‘being sat on’ as part of the reasoning underpinning my work.’
‘The power of Judith’s sculpture emanates from the impression created by her assembled figures, suggesting both comfort in company and the loss of individuality. Combining simplicity of materials with a primal aesthetic, ‘Essence’ evokes the potency of the strong female groupings in the artworks at the V&A that inspired the artist, creating stirring visions of the force of the collective and the nature of the tribe.’
Metalwork and Jewellery Prize
‘Perhaps I found a certain fascination in the idea of creating something that would remind us of the fragility of human lives. I wanted to create something that could be shocking or maybe strange, from the point of view of ordinary people’.
‘Milan’s pieces were not only characterful and original but they show high quality construction, skill and attention to detail. We were very impressed by the way his functional jewellery pieces also incorporate strong sculptural elements which bestow the option of displaying them as a work of art. He has created a contemporary take on the memento mori, a modern approach to an historical style well represented throughout the V&A.’
‘The carved and pierced Agra screens inspired me to create my jewellery pieces because of the interplay of geometric patterns and how light passing through them accentuated these designs.’
‘I absolutely love David Ward’s Jali rings because his inspiration from the V&A’s Asian collections is so clear and so successful; he has recreated the effect of light passing through the geometric shapes of an Islamic Middle Eastern screen in a startlingly beautiful piece of jewellery. I also admire the originality of his presentation, the two rings acting as a top and a base to create a stunning sculptural ornament.’
Fashion and Textiles Prize
‘The school where I work was having its 450th anniversary and I wanted to create a garment to wear for the celebration. I researched suitable inspirational sources at the V&A during student group visits and sketched various things that would fit into an Elizabethan-times scheme.’
‘We were impressed by the high level of technical skill that went into this entry, which was inspired by a 17th-century jacket from the V&A’s collection. A single material, wool, was used to skilfully suggest the construction of the jacket. An intricate play of stitches and the use of two different weights of wool allowed for a subtle reference to the variety of materials and embroidered decoration on the V&A’s object, while at the same time creating a compelling and entirely new design.’
Word and Image Prize
‘When I saw the table, I was struck by the tension of the logs constrained by the steel band. The idea that the logs had been captured for an industrial man-made use made me want to cut the band and set them free. Then I saw a vase called Trees in the Mist and the design inspired me to make the logs go back and join the forest.’
‘Back to the Wood’ by Ann Burnham really stood out in this years Inspired by competition. Ann’s main source of inspiration for this new work was a table made of bound together logs called TABLE #1 (LOG) by contemporary furniture design studio Fredrikson Stallard. In ‘Back to the Wood’ Ann has unbound the logs and set them free in woodland. The rich tonal effects and vivid colour were achieved by adding patterned papers and thread directly onto the collograph printing plate. The resulting work is highly textured and incredibly vibrant’
Theatre and Performance Prize
‘I was looking at puppets and costumes with my youngest son (7 years old) - he made some drawings of the things we saw. I was so inspired by his drawings that I made one of them up in felt.’
'Jessica Lempp's piece is a brilliant, nightmarish object that successfully evokes the macabre quality of the Greek masks by Jocelyn Herbert in the Theatre and Performance galleries. 'Christopher's Creature' also has the slightly manic charm of the 19th century marionettes from the same gallery and puppets from the Museum of Childhood. The mix of materials is particularly striking, as is the quality of the stitching and embroidery.'
Museum of Childhood Prize
‘I wanted a challenge so I went looking in galleries and museums for a project to stretch me. I found what I was looking for and that was in your collections. It took me in a direction I had not thought of trying before.’
‘This almost abstract piece demonstrates a very sensitive choice and handling of the material, which made me think a new about the doll which was the source of inspiration. Its surface is extremely smooth and finely polished, but the interior of the stone is cracked and layered, like the dolls in our collection which are well preserved and displayed, and yet fragile. To hold this piece in my hands powerfully resonated with the experience of handling nineteenth century dolls. Their faces are brittle, discoloured, cracked, yet luminescent, translucent and serene. The object taken as inspiration shows in its cracked face the same discolourations and structural flaws as the alabaster used to make this piece. The doll is dressed in many layers of fabric, embroidered, pierced and pleated into folds, which have been beautifully captured in this carving’s irregular edges and undulating surface. So, in this one small piece of stone, the artist reinterpreted the materiality and pathos of the doll to create a piece which is itself, inspiring.’
‘My artwork has been inspired by the V&A because it has a great historical variety of objects from around the world. One can get lost in other worlds and get to see other visions from different cultures, and see how others
execute work and ideas.’
‘Dennis Groenhuysen has shown great inspiration from a number of objects in the V&A collections and incorporated these ideas into his own concept of Home in a truly aesthetically pleasing, tactile and well crafted manner. His main inspiration is Michelle Erickson’s “Octopus Junk” which shows the barnacle encrusted teapot and ship wrecked ceramics which have become home to an octopus, yet he has made a calm stack of symbols that represent the comfort, beauty and familiarity of his home in Canada. Dennis clearly has gained great confidence from attending adult education classes and overcome many challenges to achieve this very intriguing and innovative work of art.’
Benefit of Learning Prize (awarded by National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education)
‘Inspired by the Cross Head sculpture, I wanted to design a ring that conveyed its strongest aspects. In particular the tension between its solidity, clean lines, weight, angular geometry facets and prism-like properties. I also utilised black and gold to depict its luminosity.’
‘We thought the way she had been inspired by the V&A artefact was amazing. We were inspired by the creativity and concept behind her piece and impressed by its technical skill: beautifully crafted and an exquisite piece of jewellery which balances light and dark, solidity and luminosity. Perhaps most importantly, we were impressed by the learner journey she has been on to get to this point. She's taken a ten year career break and we know how daunting it can be to return to learning after such a period and to enrol on a BTEC and come so far so quickly is a great achievement. We think her piece is inspiring, but also we think her story is inspiring and that Neelakshi will inspire others to gain the confidence to return to learning and follow in her footsteps. As a learner, she is a wonderful role model.’
Most Inspiring College Prize
‘It was a close call between Kensington and Chelsea College and Westminster Adult Education Service for the most inspiring college, but Westminster had the edge. They had twenty two entrants to the competition, nine (the most entrants from one college) selected for display including four in jewellery and three in glass, and they had three winning pieces and one highly commended piece.’