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The V&A currently has twelve CDP students working on diverse topics. Details of how to apply for a CDP studentship with the V&A can be found here.
© David Malik

© David Malik


David Malik

University: SOAS, University of London
Project Title: Urban Art Forms in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, and their Roles in the Making of Diasporic Identities in Communities in London, United Kingdom
Start Date: October 2015
Supervisors: Charles Gore (SOAS) and Gill Saunders (V&A Word and Image Department)

About My Research:
This addresses the role of contemporary art and design as situated practice within civic spaces, considering the ways in which it constructs both public and private spheres. Two localities are selected in Africa (Freetown and Kinshasa) in order to consider local urban art contexts and the networks constituted between their local productions and the ways they embody diasporic experiences in the United Kingdom (with London as the key site). The diasporic networks entailed will be explored in terms of how the materiality of art and design are utilised to articulate these identities negotiated within the differing and diverse urban/cultural spaces.

Aims of My Research:
My PhD is positioned as part of new approach in understanding trajectories of contemporary urban African art and design in their various art worlds; both local, regional and intercontinental

Further Information:
I studied at SOAS, where I completed the BA programme in History of Art and Archaeology, and the MA programme in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa. My interests lie in both the field of contemporary African arts and designs as well as in more long standing trajectories of visuality of Western and Central Africa as constituted in the present day and recent past


Architectural model for the proposed Reading Room of the British Museum, ca. 1853. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Architectural model for the proposed Reading Room of the British Museum, ca. 1853. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Matthew Wells

University: Royal College of Art
Project Title: Models and the professional practice of the architect, 1834–1916
Start Date: October 2015
Supervisors: Simona Valeriani (Royal College of Art) and Olivia Horsfall Turner (V&A Design, Architecture and Digital Department)

About My Research:
The primary focus of the research project is to explore how architects thought about, made, commissioned, and used models during the nineteenth and early-twentieth century. Particular focus will be given to the relationship between the use of architectural models and the development of ‘The Architect’ as a professional. The initial focus of the research will be collection of models held by the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) and Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Aims of My Research:
This extent collection of models held at the V&A and RIBA will be examined in detail and used as a lens through which to explore wider themes including the poetic and rhetorical role of the model in architectural design, the function of the model in the embodiment and transfer of knowledge (for the client, architect, engineer, contractor, and student), the rise of various professions and their separation into systematic disciplines, and the role of the model in the recording of architectural styles and practices.

Further Information:
I am an architect and historian whose research covers many aspects and eras of architectural culture. Recently my work has been published in both journals (San Rocco, and Journal of Art Historiography) and the architectural press (Architecture Today, and Building Design). For further information please see: https://vam.academia.edu/MJWells


Tabitha Baker

University: University of Warwick
Project Title: The Embroidery Trade in 18th-century France   
Start Date: October 2015
Supervisors: Giorgio Riello (University of Warwick) and Lesley Miller (V&A Textiles and Fashion Department)

About My Research:
My research will investigate the products, skills and networks of the embroiderers of 18th-century France. Embroidery was not only a polite accomplishment but also a well-established trade by the 18th-century, subject to the fluctuations of fashions in secular and ecclesiastical clothing and furnishings. By exploring the technical and aesthetic qualities, as well as the design sources of the embroidered products, this study will address how embroidery can be identified as distinctively French.

My research will cover two cities: Paris (both guild and non-guild regulated) and Lyon (no guild), which will provide a pertinent case study of two contrasting centres of trade. This project will provide new research into a trade which did not require sophisticated machinery, large capital investment, and which was still largely unaffected by technological innovation during the eighteenth century.

Aims of My Research:
This research will make a significant contribution to the history of fashion by providing an in-depth understanding of how the embroidery trade of eighteenth-century France was structured. This work will also contribute to the cataloguing of French embroidered products in the V&A collections.

Further Information:
Previous to this PhD project, I studied for a BA in English and French and the MA for Research in French and Francophone Studies at the University of Warwick. For further information please see: www.warwick.ac.uk/tabithabaker


Victoria White

University: University of York
Project Title: John Forster (1812-76) and the Making of Victorian Literature      
Start Date: October 2015
Supervisors: John Bowen (University of York) and Bill Sherman (V&A Research Department)

About My Research:
I am exploring the role of John Forster (1812-1876), a major figure in nineteenth century literary culture whose writing, criticism and literary entrepreneurship placed him at the heart of the changes that took place in the Victorian literary marketplace. Through his network of friendships with such major authors as Dickens and Browning; as editor of The Examiner; as author of literary biographies; and as literary advisor to the publishers Chapman and Hall, Forster played a leading role in the creation and reception of nineteenth-century fiction, drama and poetry, and changed decisively the possibilities and ethos of the modern literary profession.

Working with the John Forster Collection at the V&A, my project explores Forster’s role as both author and literary entrepreneur on the one hand, and collector and donor on the other. I ask how the rhetoric of literary community and individual entrepreneurship negotiates and speaks through the wealth of material within the collection.

My aim is to understand Forster’s complex, shaping role in this new literary marketplace, and to bring that understanding to new publics.


Handbag made of lucite

Handbag made of lucite, made by Rialto, New York, 1950s © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Anna Fricker

University: Imperial College London
Project Title: An evaluation of the effect of surface changes due to cleaning on the visual aesthetics of plastic art & design objects in heritage collections
Start Date: October 2013
Supervisors: David McPhail (Imperial College London) and Brenda Keneghan (V&A Science Conservation)

About My Research:
There are significant numbers of plastic objects in museum collections and one of the most concerning issues for these materials is their potential to undergo severe and sudden degradation. Cleaning of these objects is performed in order to reduce contaminants on the surface and therefore to improve both their appearance and stability. However cleaning also has potential to cause undesirable changes to the surface of the object in question. This project uses advanced surface analysis techniques to examine the surfaces of polymeric substrates before and after undergoing conventional cleaning treatments. Both chemical and physical changes to the substrate are being studied. The efficacy of various cleaning treatments is also under investigation.

Aims of My Research:
The aims of this project are to analyse changes to the surfaces of polymeric substrates as a result of cleaning protocols, to investigate the efficacy of the cleaning treatments applied and to examine any changes taking place over time.

Further Information:
Prior to undertaking my PhD, I spent ten years in research at the London College of Communication where my research included investigating the image stability of inkjet prints. I am a Member of the Institute of Physics (IOP) and Chair of the IOP Printing and Graphics Science Group. Further details may be found at https://imperial.academia.edu/AnnaFricker.


Pattern book of the Leeds firm of potters

Pattern book of the Leeds firm of potters, Messrs. Hartley, Greens & Co., 1778-92 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Maria Alessandra Chessa

University: Royal College of Art
Project Title: The Silent Revolution. Paper and its cultural impact between the 15th and 18th centuries: A study across Italy and England.
Start Date: October 2013
Supervisors: Angela McShane (Royal College of Art) and Marta Ajmar (V&A Research Department)

About My Research:
'The Silent Revolution' explores the impact of paper as an influential material in the Western culture. It investigates how paper’s substance informed the cultural development in Italy and England and its role in the transition towards modernity between the 15th and 18th century.

The perspective extends from the flexible production of a versatile mesh of fibres of rags to material ontology as perceived in-between the natural and artificial spheres. These aspects encourage to embrace the idea of paper as a distinctive and compelling substance, rather than an inert support to textual contents. Paper's intrinsic nature emerges through the manifold uses that it inspired in everyday practices, craftsmanship and technology. Pattern books, papier-mâché artefacts, pounced cards, wallpaper, pasteboard, and packaging are only some of the applications revealing the deep connections of design and thought as fostered by paper by means of the intense interaction that it conveyed between hand and mind.

Aims of My Research:
By engaging the history of paper in such a novel perspective, the research aims not only at exploring for the first time the overlooked impact of paper at the origin of our western culture, but it also aspires at engaging and challenging the most recent interdisciplinary debate on the themes of materiality and artisanal epistemology.

Further Information:

http://rca.academia.edu/MariaAlessandraChessa


The Steeple Aston Cope

The Steeple Aston Cope © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Zoe Boden

University: University of Glasgow
Project Title: Performance, Procession and Display in the Medieval Church 1200-1500
Start Date: January 2014
Supervisors: Debra Strickland (University of Glasgow), Michael Michael (Christie’s Education) and Glyn Davies (V&A Sculpture Department)

About My Research:
From the twelfth to fifteenth centuries, England was internationally renowned for its production of luxury embroidery, or Opus Anglicanum, for both secular and religious uses. 

My research is focused on ecclesiastical embroidered textiles, with particular interest in processional copes, aiming to address the function of these objects within the devotional context and liturgical practices of the Middle Ages. By studying the iconographical programmes of design embroidered onto these copes, this study will explore their relationships with the wider church environment, the physical interplay between the object and the body and their symbolic power within medieval church ritual. Often neglected in studies of medieval English art, this research aims to explore the unique nature of Opus Anglicanum by considering its place within the political, religious, social and artistic movements of medieval England. 

Aims of My Research:
My research aims to contribute to current research on medieval English embroidery, examining the relationships between processional function, liturgical use and iconography within the medieval Church and the wider context of contemporary English art. I will explore this by examining the Steeple Aston cope, an important example of the oeuvre, which has yet to be looked at in detail. This research will contribute to the V&A’s exhibition of medieval English embroidery opening September 2016.

Further Information:

http://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/cca/postgraduateresearchstudents/zoeboden/
http://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/cca/research/instituteofarthistory/projectsandnetworks/opusanglicanum/


Photograph, Waiting for Godot, by Houston Rogers, 1955

Photograph, Waiting for Godot, by Houston Rogers, 1955

Helen Gush

University: Queen Mary, University of London
Project Title: The World Theatre Season and the Internationalisation of the British Stage
Start Date: October 2013
Supervisors: Maria Delgado (Queen Mary, University of London) and Kate Dorney (V&A Theatre and Performance Department)

About My Research:
My research project focuses on the World Theatre Season, an annual season of theatre from outside the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, which took place from 1964 to 1975 at the Aldwych Theatre, London. Little has been written about this Season and yet it emerged at an exciting and significant time in British theatre history. This project will establish the Season within the historical narratives about theatre in the 1960s and the 1970s and explore its significance, impact and legacy. The Season brought foreign theatre to the UK on an unprecedented scale. Over the course of its eleven-year run, forty-eight companies visited from nineteen countries across four continents. I have chosen four case study companies to explore questions of impact and legacy in a more concrete fashion. My key research methods include working with the World Theatre Season collection at the V&A and collecting Oral History. 

Aims of My Research:
Ultimately, this project aims to retrieve the World Theatre Season from the footnotes of theatre history and create a new evidence base for scholars of international theatre.

Further Information:
If you experienced the World Theatre Seasons as practitioner, critic, audience member or in any other capacity, please do not hesitate to get in touch: h.gush@vam.ac.uk. First-hand experiences of the Seasons themselves will constitute an invaluable contribution to a new body of research.


Toca Palha Collection, A Gente Transforma Várzea Queimada

Toca Palha Collection, A Gente Transforma Várzea Queimada , Creative direction: Marcelo, Rosenbaum Product design: Marcelo Rosenbaum and Pedrita Studio (Pedro Ferreira, Rita João), 2012, Photo: Tatiana Cardeal

Frederico Duarte

University: Birkbeck, University of London
Project Title: ‘Our poor, beautiful and culturally rich country’: the contemporary challenge of Brazilian design
Start Date: October 2014
Supervisors: Luciana Martins ( Birkbeck, University of London) and Jana Scholze (V&A Furniture, Textile and Fashion Department)

About My Research:
Brazil’s complex history, miscegenated population, rich natural resources and recent, unprecedented class mobility provide the designers of this emerging superpower with unique cultural, social and material possibilities. In our globalised, increasingly virtual world, the distinctive artefacts they design are receiving international recognition from manufacturers, consumers, journalists and curators for their creativity, innovation and sustainability. Yet contemporary Brazilian product and furniture design lacks scholarly, critical works that examine how geography, craft traditions and social progress, but also stereotype, brand values and exploitation are involved in making things that sell in the local and global market.

Aims of My Research:
This project aims to provide innovative research on design practice in Brazil, with a specific focus on designer-led community projects. By positioning these activities and artefacts within a global history of design, and questioning how they are written about, exhibited and collected, it will encourage urgent, critical reflection on the impact and legacy of design.


Pair of gloves

Pair of gloves, England, 1600-1625 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Rebecca Unsworth

University: Queen Mary, University of London
Project Title: ‘Every man well appareled’: men’s fashion and networks of news in early modern European practice and print
Start Date: October 2014
Supervisors: Joad Raymond (Queen Mary, University of London) and Angela McShane (V&A Research Department)

About My Research:
My PhD is investigating how news about men’s fashion spread across Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. How did consumers and producers across the continent find out about what was seen to be stylish elsewhere, and how did they come to adopt and adapt such foreign fashions into their own wardrobes? My research is focused on gloves, doublets and swords, in order to discern if the differing materiality and nature of different fashionable objects had an impact on the way in which news about them travelled. Centring my research on a number of geographical hubs across Europe, I am planning to map the networks through which news circulated and uncover the means of its transmission, whether oral, textual or embedded in the objects themselves.

Aims of My Research:
My research aims to bring a new perspective to the histories of both early modern fashion and news, thinking about how people came to be wearing what they did, but also how news which wasn’t necessarily “serious” or to be found in a newssheet travelled across Europe in the era before fashion journalism.

Further Information:
Previously I studied for a BA in History at the University of Warwick and an MA in History of Design at the V&A/RCA. My main areas of interest lie in the early modern world, fashion and design, skill and making, and global connections. I have experience of volunteering and working in a number of different museums, libraries and historic houses, and I used to be a co-editor-in-chief of Unmaking Things, a website dedicated to design history.

For more information on me and my research see my academia.edu page or my website and blog.


Photograph of David Bowie

Photograph of David Bowie, by Terry O’Neill, London, 1974

Lauren Fried

University: Royal College of Art
Project Title: Androgyny and Cross-Dressing in British Pop and Performance (c.1967- 1990): A Material History
Start Date: October 2014
Supervisors: Jane Pavitt (Royal College of Art) and Victoria Broackes (V&A Theatre and Performance Department)

About My Research:
As a historian of the body, my research interacts with the various ways that non-heterornormative bodies have been shaped, and have shaped themselves, through clothing, medicine, design and display. This PhD considers how trans bodies (broadly defined), and trans performance practices, have been developed in the UK throughout the later half of the twentieth century, and particularly how the shifting political, social and legal landscape has interacted with these histories. The work will draw attention to new routes through the V&A's Theatre and Performance collections, and will question what a material history of non-heteronormative sexualities might consist of. 

Aims of My Research:
The aims of this research project are threefold: My work will locate, resurface and re-examine¬ a material history of trans performance practices through in-depth archival investigation within the V&A and further afield; I will create new oral histories connected to the subject matter; and finally, the research will question more broadly the placement and significance of non-heteronormative material histories and cultures within museums, archives, and collections. 

Further Information:
Academia.edu page: http://vam.academia.edu/LaurenFried
Twitter: @laurenkfried


Paul Sohi

© Paul Sohi

Paul Sohi

University: Royal College of Art
Project Title: Mannequins for the 21st Century
Start Date: October 2014
Supervisors: Ashley Hall and Sarah Cheang (Royal College of Art), and Sam Gatley (V&A Conservation Department)

About My Research:
The current state of fashion display in museums requires a long and laborious process of preparing mannequins from the standard “model size 10” into something that is tailored made for the object to be displayed. The research in Mannequins for the 21st Century aims to modernise this process in such a way that allows a conservator to create a made to measure mannequin using modern manufacturing process such as 3D printing.

Aims of My Research:
Research by practice, to create a new kind of mannequin manufacturing “station” that will be able to dynamically create a mannequin specific to an item of clothing that is specified by its clothing measurements.
 

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