Andrew Day writes for screen and stage, and is now venturing into children’s fiction. He was selected to attend the Gifted Children’s unit at 9 but by 14 he was a problem to all concerned: disruptive behavior, academic underachievement, and chronic truancy. With the help of his family, and the opportunity to study Arts, he ended up spending three very happy years at Cambridge University, and leaving with a degree.
Long Time Dead
Andrew Day co-wrote several screenplays, including Long Time Dead for Working Title and Lock Stock… a 7 part series for Channel 4.
Lock, Stock, the TV series
Into the Museum
Out into the museum they went, each accompanied by an artist. Each artist has their own field – music, photography, painting, writing and more. But they are looking out for the direction the student is moving in.
One of the artefacts that was selected by a student was a gigantic Japanese bronze sculpture of two peacocks at a well. In her poem, the peacocks have been transformed into phoenixes, and the moment vividly imagined.
Sam's Poem - Inspired by the Phoenix
You left before I told you I love you
I pray that the message got to you
I wish I could have one more day but
I know I can’t
I wish I could hold you
I wish I could hear your voice just once more
I want you to know I love you
As much as I ever did
I know I was selfish and I know I hurt you
But I did not mean the things I said
I know you are the one I love
Until the day I die.
We continued this project for a second week, before deciding to take on an extra direction. Because each student was developing their work in a different direction back at our base in Central Saint Martins College, we had an opportunity to look for another way to capitalise on our time on-site at the V&A.
This time, supplied with digital cameras and video by the Sackler Centre, our students were asked to go out and ‘collect’ their own artefacts, with the aim of bringing back a sub-collection of exhibits that interested them. Students who had been to the museum before guided those who hadn’t. Likewise, those with photography skills taught their peers what they knew.
The results revealed a range of interpretations . Two differing approaches are shown below.
Lois and Damien took to photographing the museum itself as well as the exhibits, transforming what they saw with imaginative framing and Photoshop editing.
Victoria & Albert Museum
When Protege went into the V&A museum in South Kensington it had one aim in mind: That the students should learn through creativity. That meant that the individual’s response to the collection of artefacts was the key to understanding this new environment. What the students brought through the doors was just as important as what they found on the other side.
Some of them had an idea of what to expect. Some had none. This is what they were told the first time they were sitting in the specially designed studio of the Sackler wing:
“We want you to go out into the museum and walk around. You’re looking for something that appeals to you. You might like it because of the emotions or ideas it gives you. you might choose it because it reminds you of another time and place. You might be fascinated by its colours. The important thing is that it means something to you. Try to find one object that interests you most of all. When you’ve done that, come back here. Because then you’re going to start thinking about how you could create a piece of art, based on what you saw.’
To inspire the students – and to some extent to assure ourselves that it was all possible – we showed them the work and profiles of three artists, historical and contemporary, whose backgrounds were varied, but who all had something in common: they all used artefacts from a distant time and culture to create new vibrant art.
David Bowie – Kabuki Trousers & Pierrot
Life: Failed the 11+ exam and was sent to a ‘technical’ school. Family afflicted by mental illness. Nearly lost one eye in a fight. Left with one exam pass – Art. Joined bands, mime troupes and hung out in trendy parts of London. Became a huge star in the 70s and changed music forever.
Art: Outrageous stage shows, using foreign designers and ideas from everywhere. Shocked the world by being openly bisexual, wearing make-up and dresses and behaving as if he were an alien.
Pictures: These trousers were inspired by Japanese Kabuki theatre costumes. One of his other ‘looks’ was based on the Pierrot clown figure.
Japan and Pierrot influences.
Picasso – Masks & Sculpture
Life: Had a very ordinary comfortable life in Spain. Moved to Paris and lived in freezing poverty. Eventually became hugely rich and successful.
Art: Extremely shocking images and style. Highly sexual, showing no regard for politeness.
Pictures: Picasso was fascinated by ancient art, especially magic and ritualistic art. The faces in Desmoiselles were based on African, Etruscan and Iberian masks. Picasso’s friend Appolinaire was arrested for stealing masks from the Louvre. Picasso denied any involvement. He was probably lying.
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.
M.I.A – Fashion & Mexican Designs
Life: A refugee from Sri Lanks, she grew up in East London and made it big as a rapper.
Art: Mixes street language from different cultures.
Pictures: M.I.A has her own fashion range. You can see from these pictures where some of the ideas come from.
M.I.A’s design and Traditional Mexican Textiles.
Damien at V&A Museum
Lois at V&A Museum
Continuing at the Museum
Another pair of students came back with a set of photos which were unremarkable visually, but when we heard the boys explaining their choices, we knew that their radical and vivid tales needed to be captured. So we asked them to go back and talk about the objects in situ, recorded on video. They were sometimes too shy to stand in shot while they talked, and so then the camera is trained on the subject of their thoughts.
Teacher Spots 1 - Why are we there?
Our aim in this project is to open up the collections for young people, especially those outside the mainstream and with creative talents and aspirations. The online application allows us to recreate, or at least imitate, the experience of visiting a museum. This is useful for students who aren’t able to leave their homes or hospital beds. Users of the Protege website will have links to various museums and galleries and will learn to see public collections as banks of ideas, images, and objects from which to launch their own projects and thoughts. Images from gallery and museum sites will then appear as links on the profile of our students. These profiles will then be viewed by their friends, and form a trail to social networking sites and so on.
For many, a museum is a place where you have to be on your best behaviour, or you’ll be ‘shushed’, where there is a mountain of knowledge that symbolises what you don’t know, can’t do and aren’t interested in. The first stage in removing the obstacle is to show young people that there is something in there that they will like. Without that, there is no motivation to go on. That’s why we take them straight into looking for things they like – without any prior introduction, just as we walk into a shop and start looking around, without asking ourselves how big the shop is, what it’s market position is, when it was incorporated, or where the ideas come from.
Visitors to this web application can quickly access a museum’s collection through photos online. The outcome is that the visitor has a positive, memorable experience and regards a public museum or gallery as a stimulating place to visit without any intimidating overtones of what you ‘ought to’ get from the experience.
The model we are using here could be described as:
ENGAGEMENT > SELECTION/PERSONALISATION > GUIDED RESPONSE
Teacher Spots 2 - Walk In
The visitor is not presented with a pre-ordained framework through which to view the collection; there is nothing he or she ‘ought’ to see, notice, remember, or learn. Neither will they be ‘informed’, ‘taught’ or made to undergo any instruction, as this can be a barrier to engagement – even with educated adults. We want to get as quickly as possible to the reaction and capitalise on that.
Teacher Spots 3 - Choose
The processes of Browsing and Searching – which are familiar to web-literate young people – enable the individual to choose his or her own piece; each person selects images of objects that appeal to them, creating their own sub-collections. Just as we might buy postcards of our favourite pictures in a gallery shop.
The personalisation process is vital. The students need to ‘own’ the process throughout. Also, exercising a unique choice, we all fell empowered, individuated, and recognised.
We are steering the student into viewing a museum as a place from which you assert your own identity, rather than get lost in a forest of other, alien objects.
Teacher Spots 4 - Use
By putting together a collection of favourite items, the students have already responded creatively and constructively to the museum collection. By explaining their choices, they strengthen their presentation skills and grow in confidence. The recognition they receive for their own built reply to what they are shown enhances self-worth. They have learned the value of exploration and research as a stimulus to creative work. They have an experience and an end result – both of which can be captured online when the students leave their sub-collection and comments on the page.