Jo Morrison, Digital Projects Director at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, explains how her institution and the other colleges that make up the University of the Arts London are embracing the creative and cultural opportunities offered by London 2012.
Tomorrow, on 23 June, Sir John Tusa, Chair of Governors, and the Chancellor, Kwame Kwei-Armah, will host the University of the Arts London’s (UAL) evening reception celebrating London 2012. Guests will have the opportunity to hear from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), the Government Olympic Executive, and from our own students about their project with ParalympicsGB. On display will be a host of work undertaken by students, staff and alumni that is inspired by, or related to, London 2012.
The evening will give people with 2012 interests the opportunity to meet, to learn about the breadth and depth of the UAL community’s skills and experience, and to explore ways in which we might work together.
The UAL comprises six colleges: Central Saint Martins (CSM); London College of Communication (LCC); London College of Fashion (LCF); and Chelsea, Camberwell, and Wimbledon Colleges of Art and Design. Staff, students and alumni from across the university have been working on a range of projects related to London 2012.
A recent collaboration between UK Sport in conjunction with the charity IDS, and Central Saint Martin’s MA Innovation Management, enabled 30 of our students to work with students from two West African universities, as part of the BILD programme. Over the Spring Term they developed solutions for the design and production of sustainable sports equipment in rural and urban Ghana. This was a stellar sports-related international project that really gave everyone an amazing learning opportunity, and they, in turn, developed a range of innovative ideas to benefit BILD.
Another collaborative project saw two CSM Masters degree courses work together on design concepts for the Wellcome Trust. As part of their public engagement activities for 2012, Wellcome is planning to capitalise on interest in health and science by developing sensory ‘pods’ that enable interactive physical tests. The pods will be placed in a number of public spaces in the UK. Our students worked at the conceptual stage to focus on the ‘user experience of science’, and were asked to challenge or expand the project brief. While these projects do not focus on the Olympics, they both evolved through initial conversations exploring 2012 partnership, and illustrate ways in which our students are benefitting from London 2012. In fact, 63 of CSM’s textiles undergraduates have gone on to work on Threads and Yarns – an intergenerational project that is part of the Wellcome Trust’s 75th Anniversary celebrations – so we are building on these Olympics links already!
Fencing has been an Olympic sport since the first Olympiad of the modern era, making it one of only nine original Olympic events. The Wallace Collection is marking the 2012 London Olympic year with a headline exhibition and summer of activities celebrating and re-examining the art of the sword. They are linking up with London College of Fashion’s current second year Fashion Illustration students to develop a range of products to go on sale in the gallery’s shop. The products will relate to The Noble Art: Fashion and Fencing in Renaissance Europe exhibition which runs from March to September 2012.
LCF has also been running a competition for schools called Fashion in Motion. Year 9 art and design students from all over the country were given a challenge by the London College of Fashion to design a dynamic outfit for a sporting activity for London 2012. Hopefully some of the students who entered will find themselves studying at the LCF in a few years’ time. BT’s Big Voice, which is part of the London Olympics’ Education Programme, has also invited CSM’s Drama Centre London students to participate.
Our alumni continue to play a significant role in all creative and cultural aspects of 2012. Martin Richman (CSM) has produced surface designs for bridges and underpasses at the Olympic Park, David Cornell (CSM) and Roderick Enriquez (LCC) were both commissioned by the Royal Mint to design commemorative 50 pence coins, Anish Kapoor (Chelsea) has designed the ArcelorMittal Orbit at the Olympic Park, and Stella McCartney’s (CSM) Team GB outfits were recently featured in Vogue.
Come next summer, I shall be watching the Olympics from one of the country’s Live Sites, as along with many others, my application for tickets wasn’t fruitful. Fortunately some of our students have even been research interns with LOCOG’s Live Sites team, so I have high hopes that they will have played their part in ensuring that the spectacle is hugely enjoyable!
UK Sport/BILD project photo by Toby Wilson. All rights reserved. One Whirl by Martin Richman photo courtesy of Olympic Delivery Authority. All rights reserved.