Artist, Designer, Maker Residencies

Duration: 60 months (January 2016 – December 2020)
Project lead: Laura Carderera, Residencies Programme Manager
Co-Investigator: Eileen Budd, VARI Project Manager
Embedded residency: one 12 month residency per year

Offsite residency: one 3 month residency per year

Inviting creative practitioners keen to draw upon the resources of the V&A and to work collaboratively with other members of the VARI project and wider Museum community, VARI will hold two residencies per year from 2016 – 2021. Each year, we will have an 'embedded residency' and an 'offsite residency', which together will build bridges between multiple constituencies, knowledge bases and creative practices.

For the 'embedded residencies', the practitioner will be invited to critically examine ways in which we can together rethink our institution from the inside – moving from the traditional notion of the museum as a container for the display of art to an active site of production and discussion, where different voices are incorporated into curatorial and other museum decision-making processes.

For the 'offsite residencies', we are particularly interested in hosting colleagues with a socially engaged practice, to be selected through an open call for applications jointly issued by the V&A and partner organisations in London.

The selection panel for each residency will consist of relevant VARI staff and colleagues, at least one representative from the wider V&A, a representative of any partner organisation and an external curator if appropriate.

Rachel Ara: V&A Research Institute (VARI) Embedded Resident
October 2017 – October 2018
Generously supported by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation
Rachel ara

Rachel Ara is a British data and conceptual artist based in London. She has over 25 years’ experience working in the technology industry, from programming and analysis to systems design. She combines this with a Fine Art degree from Goldsmiths and a furniture making background to create unique works. Rachel is also a recipient of the Near Now Fellowship, awarded to pioneering artists working in technology to research and realise bold ideas making sense of technology in everyday life. Her work is nonconformist with a socio-political edge that often incorporates humour and irony with feminist and queer concerns. She has a particular interest in misinformation, algorithmic bias and the resurfacing of silenced narratives while also looking at the impacts of the world of technology on gender and society.

During this residency I’ll be researching and investigating the data the V&A holds about its collections and beyond. I’ll be looking at new ways to connect this data to create new narratives and ways of engagement. Focusing on the hidden narratives of the data, how it came to be and looking for the gaps. I’ll be combining my systems, craft and fine art skills to produce a response to my findings. This may include new interventions that are both physical and digital.

Rachel Ara
Wouter Osterholt: V&A Research Institute (VARI) Offsite Resident
In Collaboration with Create
November 2017 – March 2018
Based at The White House, Becontree Estate, Dagenham
Generously supported by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation

Selected in collaboration with Create, Berlin-based artist Wouter Osterholt’s work often re-contextualises existing material such as buildings, monuments, sculptures, rituals or archival material to manifest fault lines and breaking points in our political landscape, where social injustice, conflicts or problems come to light.

During his residency at The White House in Dagenham, Osterholt will explore the utopian origins of the garden city movement and the Becontree Estate, with the aim of creating an Ideological Travel Guide to Becontree.

Within the context of the Becontree Estate I am primarily interested in the ideological foundations of the garden city movement of Ebenezer Howard and how its physical virtues were 'fetishized' at the expense of its social goals.

My main objective for the residency is to find a way to experiment with the radical potential of the original movement. In recent years, it has become clear that Britain’s housing situation is in a deep crisis, compounded by a political crisis and new global pressures from climate change and immigration. This is a timely moment to rediscover and re-imagine the garden city principles and the benefits of establishing sustainable and socially just communities.

Wouter Osterholt

Victoria Adukwei Bulley: V&A Research Institute (VARI) Opening the Cabinet of Curiosities Resident
February 2018 – May 2018
Generously supported by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation


Victoria Adukwei Bulley is a British-born Ghanaian poet, writer and filmmaker based in London. Her work explores memory and cultural heritage – their loss and (re)creation – from a diasporic vantage point. Engaging with archival texts in addition to oral and indigenous histories, her practice posits memory as a form of creative activism which seeks to revivify bodies of knowledge that face erasure.

An alumna of the Barbican Young Poets programme, Victoria’s work has been commissioned by the Royal Academy of Arts, in addition to featuring on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour. She was shortlisted for the Brunel University African Poetry Prize 2016, and is a Complete Works Poetry fellow. Her debut pamphlet, Girl B, edited by Kwame Dawes, forms part of the 2017 New-Generation African Poets series. Victoria is the director of MOTHER TONGUES, a poetry translation and film initiative supported by Arts Council England and visual arts charity Autograph ABP.

My intention for this residency is to respectfully unearth the names, lives and experiences of individuals whose enslavement is ineffably tied to items housed within the V&A's collection. Drawing closely from the research of Dr Hannah Young (University College London) and the extensive Legacies of British Slave-Ownership compensation database, I will respond progressively through a meeting of text, film and photography. These interventions will aim to provide a human face to this history in ways that archives are incapable of doing. Coupled with a selection of public-facing events, this programme of exploration will be produced under the title A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE INHERITANCES.

I am grateful to the V&A Research Institute for giving me the opportunity to pursue this work alongside a further residency taking place in Brazil, in April, which will also examine similar themes.

Victoria Adukwei Bulley