Jo Morrison, Digital Projects Director at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, continues her blog series looking at 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.
For those who haven’t read my blogs before, the University of the Arts London (UAL) comprises of six Colleges, each with its own history, character and areas of expertise. The UAL is the largest specialist arts and design university in Europe, educating around 20,000 people each year and attracting more than 5,000 international students to London.
As I write, several of our design students are undertaking once-in-a-lifetime work placements with the London 2012 Ceremonies production team. They are applying their skills in the Design Studio, and with the Costumes, Fabrication and Operations departments. With more 15 per cent of the world’s population expected to watch the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, this means that more than one billion people will be critiquing their work!
Students from Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design (CSM) are currently working on several other London 2012-related projects with internationally renowned partners. The Royal Shakespeare Company will be screening films created by our animators who are responding to a trilogy of Shakespeare’s plays – The Tempest, Twelfth Night and The Comedy of Errors. The Academy of St Martin in the Fields is working with students on a stellar programme for the Cultural Olympiad’s Music Nation orchestral weekend in March.
CSM’s 2012 connections also extend to our current staff, such as Lin Cheung who designed the absolutely beautiful 2012 Paralympic medals, as I described in my last blog, and the highly esteemed British sculptor and past tutor Sir Anthony Caro who recently created the first one-kilo Olympics gold coin. Also, I heard today that the Olympic Torch will be travelling past CSM’s magnificent new home in London’s Kings Cross district in July – a building recently described by an awestruck professor as “the arts and design school for the 22nd century”.
While UAL is firmly focused on arts and design education, some of our students have themselves been medal-winning international athletes. Chelsea College of Art and Design alumna, Hellen Manufor, won a bronze medal for netball in the 1998 Commonwealth Games, was capped 40 times for England and will be assisting Nigeria’s netball team at London 2012. Final year student Alasdair Leighton-Crawford was a professional British rower prior to becoming an award-winning designer during his BA Fashion Sportswear studies at the London College of Fashion (LCF). Recently explaining how sport influences his approach to design, Alasdair said: “With my background as a former athlete, a degree in geography and now as a developing designer, I feel that it is paramount that I develop sustainable products that limit environmental degradation.”
Echoing Alasdair’s focus on fashion and ecology, the LCF’s Centre of Sustainable Fashion (CSF) aims to change the way people think of, buy, wear and discuss fashion. As part of its stimulating project i-Sustain, the Centre recently collaborated with i-D magazine and featured two Paralympic athletes, Jonnie Peacock and Stefanie Reid, modelling conscientious designs with a sports aesthetic. CSF’s Alex MacKintosh said: “The Games are an amazing opportunity to explore and highlight the need for cultural shifts in order that we can create more connected communities and a more sustainable culture in terms of how we manage our natural resources.”
Other projects exploring sustainability undertaken by students inspired by the Games include Victoria Lee’s thoughtful ‘Olympic Terra’ final-year project, and a wonderful collaboration between CSM, the University of Ghana and Ghana’s University of Development Studies.
As illustrated above, the extraordinary contribution our community is making to so many creative and cultural aspects of London 2012 is unique, meaningful and inspiring. I haven’t even mentioned that Chelsea is hosting the Georgian National Olympic House at its Millbank venue and many of its galleries will exhibit Olympics-related shows; that recent graduate Alex Bulmer has been commissioned to write two performances for the Cultural Olympiad and Opening Ceremonies; that alumna Susan Forsyth has been asked by the Royal British Society of Sculptors to create two large gilded works celebrating London 2012 that will be placed at their headquarters; and much more.
With my conversations around the Rio 2016 Games now starting, I look forward to writing updates about additional fabulous work in the future!
Read Jo’s previous blogs about UAL’s work on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games:
- Bursaries, ‘Breathe’ and tales of Brent
- Sensory pods, swords and school competitions – the creative side of London 2012
- From Leona Lewis to obsolete swimsuits – how arts students are making the most of London 2012
All images courtesy University of the Arts London. iSustain photo by Kerry Dean