Rainbow Families at the V&A

August 17, 2016


Ceramics Resident: Matt Smith

October 2015 – March 2016

The second outreach project during my residency at the museum involved working with Rainbow Families, a Brighton-based social group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) parents and their children.

The Learning Team at the museum are skilled at providing material to help the museum collections relevant and interesting for family groups.  We worked together on producing a family trail which consciously avoided limiting notions of families as solely heterosexual, two parent groups.


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We also provided a series of clay workshops where the families were encouraged to make three dimensional self portraits of their families based on the Staffordshire flat back figure groups in the museum’s collections.



During discussions with the group, the idea was raised of having portraits of the families taken whilst at the museum.  I suggested we commission the photographer Pat Pope to take a series of portraits of the families in the historic rooms in the museum, placing these families in the heart of British history.

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Pat has a long running practice of taking ‘alternative family portraits’.  Through a very particular photographic process, Pat’s images have a slightly uncanny air.  With tongue very firmly in cheek, we thought this might play into conservative fears of difference in family groups.

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About the author

August 17, 2016

I am the Residency Programme Assistant at the V&A, managing our artists in residence and their studios. I also project manage many events, displays and installations run by our Learning...

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