Jewellery workshop involving refugee communities

Jewellery workshop involving refugee communities

Rajiv Anand

Rajiv Anand, South Asian Community Education Officer and Cultural Diversity Team Leader

I am the South Asian Community Education Officer at the V&A. My job is to represent the interests of cultural diversity and equality across the V&A, to be an advocate for diverse audiences and to run projects in collaboration with partners and communities outside the Museum. My work is therefore very varied. I have represented the V&A's Access, Social Inclusion and Community Development Team on the Sackler Centre Project Team since early 2006.

Our aim from the beginning has been to make the Sackler Centre feel welcoming, attractive, relevant and engaging to the widest possible range of people. My role is to liaise with my team to ensure that this aim becomes a reality. The new spaces will enable us to run exciting projects, encouraging visitors from diverse backgrounds to explore and engage with the collections here in different ways and also to reach out further to wider audiences beyond our walls using the technology that the new Centre will provide.

An innovative residency scheme will see two studios in the Centre being used by artists, designers and craftspeople interacting with the public. I have been particularly involved in this aspect as I feel that it will really help to make The Sackler Centre a creative and inspiring space. I have recently organised a series of jewellery workshops with young men who come from asylum and refugee communities. The young men in these workshops originate from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia and had never made jewellery before. They  were very keen to get involved with this highly technical and creative art form, using the Indian collections in the Nehru Gallery as an inspiration. The group worked with a professional jeweller who interacted well with the young men and pitched workshops at the right level in order to fully engage with the participants. It is expected that these young people will continue to work with the V&A across its many exciting and diverse programmes in the new Centre.

This experience will help with planning one of the first residencies, for a jewellery maker, which we are planning for April 2008. When we advertised the residency we tried to ensure it came to the attention of the widest possible range of practitioners.