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.
207 applicants entered the competition this year. They came from diverse backgrounds and from 45 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. A significant number of entrants had access requirements.
The entries were assessed by a total of 13 curators, programme managers, designers and prize donors. 45 artworks in different media made by students were selected to go on display at the V&A Museum of Childhood from 2 October to 21 November 2010.
Nicola Lon for Vitreous Humour
'The Decode exhibition looked fantastic with its interactive items and the Opto-Isolator really caught by attention - it's so innovative and unique. Then I saw De Morgan's peacock with vibrant turquoise and blues, which gave me the added inspiration for iris colour set against the white background.'
'Vitreous Humour by Nicola Long was chosen because of it's clever and successful integration of inspiration derived from two objects - Golan Levin's human sized interactive eye from the Decode exhibition and William de Morgan's ceramic dish with peacock design; its lovely delicacy with the fringed edges representing eyelashes; its sense of intrigue with the eye in the base of the dish and the
double entendre/meaning of the word vitreous 1) part
of the eye 2) when clay is fired it vitrifies.'
Benefit of Learning Prize (awarded by National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education)
Muriel Morris-Jones for In the Beginning - Finding a Voice
'I was inspired by Gallery 41. It brought back a long-forgotten interest 'in the beginning' of the world, the miracle of creation and mankind's many theories and clutching at answers in both religion and science.'
'Muriel Morris-Jones' application In the Beginning, Finding a Voice really shows the impact that learning can have as an adult, and the contribution that museums can make to learning for everyone.
She says, '[The Winged Lion in the South Asian Gallery] brought back long forgotten interest 'In the Beginning' of the world, the miracle of creation. It has rekindled my dormant interest in the mysteries of the universe and creativity of mankind through time.'
'[I am] slowly recovering my passion for life, by attending the Mary Ward Centre for three hours a week in the company of other creative people...'
Jolanta Jagiello for City Calligraphy
'I wanted to be inspired by the work of architects so I visited the Architecture Gallery. I was impressed by the section on public housing, particularly tall tower blocks.'
'Inspired by the architectural model for the Rowlett Street Housing Estate designed by Erno Goldfinger, 'City Calligraphy' evokes the steadfast durability of public housing and tall tower blocks, while acknowledging the variables (such as subtle movement and delicate suspension) on which these structures rely.
As a kinetic artwork it moves and bounces upon contact.'
Medieval & Renaissance Galleries Prize
Margaret Sparks for A Medieval Forest
'The wood carvings on the pillars are incredibly strong and I immediately saw the trees as a medieval forest. My main idea was to layer the trees as a collage, to provide shadows and overlap of trees in a forest.'
'We were drawn to Margaret Spark's magical reinterpretation of details on medieval carved wooden columns in the Medieval and Renaissance galleries.
The linocut technique of her work alludes to the carving process of the original, and she has recreated the intricacy of the column's leaf-patterns. The individual foliage prints are sensitively balanced compositions, further enhanced by repetition. The result is a boldly graphic design in a style which references the patterned fabrics and wallpapers of the 1940s and 50s.'
Lilly Ousantzopoulou for Enchanted Circus
'My artwork is the result of visiting the British Galleries of the V&A Museum and being enchanted by the 1851 tunnel book representing the Great Exhibition.'
'Enchanted Circus' captures an illusion of depth and movement which fascinated the Victorians - a fascination drawn forth by Charles Moody's Great Exhibition 'tunnel book'.
The layering of different metals with varying colours and textures, like the lithography of the book helps to create space and a sense of playful whimsy.'
Fashion and Textiles Prize
Eleanor Symms for Silver Birch Tree Pockets
'The textiles, fashion and jewellery collections at the V&A are wonderful resources, enabling me to view works within chronological, cultural and aesthetic contexts.'
'Eleanor Symms' 'Silver Birch Tree Pockets' stood out for me from the very early stages of judging for the textiles and fashion section of 'Inspired byÉ'
'I was struck by the way Eleanor had re-interpreted the idea of separate pockets to tie around the waist - indispensable, commonplace accessories the 18th century, and updated them as a very beautiful, desirable objects for the 21st century. I also liked the way she had studied an unusual combination of objects from across the museum collections, using them as they are intended, to inspire modern design. I was interested in the way she fused traditional and contemporary materials and techniques to recreate the effect of silver birch tree bark, and was equally inspired by the natural world.'
Museum of Childhood Prize
Rebecca Green for Mrs Bryant's Pleasure
'Mrs Bryant's house was magical and the reality and detail of the rooms incredible - but the strangeness of the difference in scale between the doll in the kitchen and the furniture was very apparent to me!'
'This beautifully made, illustrated children's book is based on the imagined lives of two doll-sized owners of two of the museum's finest dolls' houses on display, Mrs Bryant's Pleasure and The Tate Baby House.
Rebecca has constructed a fully illustrated story about what problems may arise within their out of scale and mismatching miniature worlds in Mrs Bryant's house including how she is too small to look out her windows or to climb in to her bed easily.
Rebecca has taken the time to really observe the quirkiness of dolls' house interiors and notice how, as furniture and interior decorations have been acquired over time, and not made specifically for the house, they are often out of scale and at times nonsensical. I really liked how this was the central focus for the story and how the characters of Mrs Bryant and Mrs Tate, her larger next door neighbour, overcome their differences in scale by turning this to their advantage, and eventually becoming friends. The drawings throughout the book are beautifully executed and capture the period features of the house and the dolls really well. The story is imaginative and has a sweet and optimistic message of friendship and is one I can really see children and adults enjoying, particularly in combination with seeing the Mrs Bryant's Pleasure at the Museum.'
Theatre & Performance Prize
Natasha Tonkin for Tweatre
'Inspired by the reflective and interactive theme of Decode exhibition and the glitz and glamour of the Theatre Collection, I wanted to create a new space that merges the myriad of online outlets with the traditional theatre performance arena, drawing attention to their analogous relationship.'
'We thought Natasha's piece scored very highly in originality. An imaginative mix of 'old' and 'new' technology, it has echoes of a 'What the Butler Saw' early cinema experience alongside reference to the feeling of intimacy and expectation one gets when sitting in a live audience, waiting for a show to begin.
The large amount of art materials used and practices were also impressive and it was great to see two seemingly different exhibitions and galleries brought
together as inspiration for a new piece. We loved the title too, combining 'Theatre' and 'Tweeter.'
View a short video on 'Tweatre' by Natasha Tonkin on youTube
Ceramics Galleries Prize
Timothy Letten for Compression
'Room 143 inspired me. I found drawing many objects on all the shelves compelling and compressed all of them into one drawing. I immediately had an idea of pots found under the sea. When brought to the surface, they had all stuck together.'
'We were impressed by Timothy Letten's "Compression" not only by the quality and challenges of making a piece of this size, but also for its imaginative scope. It takes on an organic life of its own absorbing and fusing with the forms of the traditional Nigerian pots in the Ceramics Gallery. He had the idea that the pots had fused and compressed under the sea for hundreds of years but rather than become objects frozen in time, they have become one object which is very much alive.'
Wendy Green for Connect
'I visited the Museum of Childhood and was transported back to my youth by the brightly coloured Playplax construction toy and the Javanese shadow puppets. The colour changing gobo light in the Sensory Pod also appealed to me.'
'Playing with shapes, textures and light, Wendy Green's delightful 'Connect' is an imaginative response to the collections of the Museum of Childhood.
The almost impossible balance of this incredibly delicate structure shows great skill but also a refreshing playfulness that makes it a particularly appealing object.'
Ceramics PrizeClarissa Dorner for Nasturtium Stack
'I am inspired by the monumental size of the cast of Trajan's Column. I particularly like the way it spirals upwards, telling a story. I was also inspired by the tulip vases in the Ceramics gallery and the related pieces produced in the 'Telling Tales' exhibition.'
'Clarissa Dorner's 'Nasturtium Stack' is inspired by the V&A's ceramics collection and perhaps one of its most imposing sculptures, Trajan's column. Her piece not only shows great technical achievement, it skilfully marries delicate glazing to a sense of monumentality and harmonious equilibrium that has a poetic resonance.'
Word and Image Prize
Laura Sheppard for Chinese Zodiac Puppets
'Upon visiting the China rooms I was completely taken aback by the beauty and the detail in all the items, but particularly the textiles and ceramics.'
'Laura Sheppard's work was chosen as a winning piece as it displayed a meticulous care in execution, coupled with a sense of fun and movement.
Laura had clearly spent time and effort studying objects at the V&A and had let that inspire her work without restricting her imagination. We were particularly impressed by her attention to the detail and the presentation of the works.'
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.