Digital Projects Director Jo Morrison continues her blog series on how the University of the Arts London (UAL) – which is comprised of six colleges: Central Saint Martins (CSM); London College of Fashion (LCF); London College of Communication LCC); and Chelsea, Camberwell and Wimbledon Colleges of Art and Design – is embracing the creative opportunities of London 2012.
Last week I learnt that more than one million people have already viewed work created by students from Central Saint Martins on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) recently launched myShakespeare website.
The RSC’s Geraldine Collinge spoke of the collaboration with CSM at the UAL’s Celebrating London 2012: Evening Reception, and described how the students’ designs were influencing ways in which Shakespeare is being interpreted. The event was hosted by Sir John Tusa, Chair of Governors, to recognise and celebrate the diverse ways in which the UAL’s community is involved in several creative and cultural elements of the Games.
Students, staff and alumni from across the six colleges joined an eclectic mix of guests to hear insightful talks, view the accompanying exhibition of 2012 inspired work, and to meet one another. The previous week the UAL had won an award for its contribution to London 2012 – so we have many reasons to celebrate!
As part of Universities Week 2012, I attended the Houses of Parliament for the launch of a publication describing the array of stellar research being undertaken by UK universities in relation to the Games. Two projects involving the University of the Arts were featured, one being a collaboration to create the world’s first bespoke performance football boot ‘Assassin’ between the London College of Fashion, University of Loughborough, EOS GmbH Electro Optical Systems, and P2L. The second is the new Rootstein Hopkins doctoral bursary to explore the role of drawing in the Olympic Games.
While I was there I met a phenomenal athlete – multiple world record holder at ultra distance running – Sharon Gayter. Sharon described how her running shoes melted as she crossed Death Valley (hopefully they weren’t ‘Assasins’!) and how she had completed over 1,000 marathons, and ran one race at 18,000 feet.
“I represent what the Games stand for”
But these tales of endurance, perseverance and physical hardship are not the stories I’m expecting to hear from six students representing the University as Torchbearers in the Olympic Torch Relay. Samsung, a sponsor of the Torch Relay, invited 31 universities to take part, and London College of Fashion student Hannah Johansson recently described her feelings about being selected: “By carrying the Olympic flame, I represent my university and my education… and I also represent what the Olympic and Paralympic Games stand for, and I hope that the event in 2012 will bring people from different nations together.”
Wimbledon student Tottie Petit will also be carrying the Olympic Torch for the UAL. She said: “Everyone says I am hilarious at running, so I guess I will just try and carry it as best as I can without falling over. My brother says he can’t come and watch me because he doesn’t own any flame retardant clothing!”
Our community continues to create inspiring work related to London 2012, for instance LCC senior lecturer Monica Biagioli has curated Sound Proof for the past four years – a series of exhibitions taking the Olympic Park site as a departure point for commissioned sound artworks, and CSM associate lecturer Yannakis Jones has recently finished work on a series of athletics-inspired films for Olympic sponsor BMW.
The recent collection by CSM MA Fashion student Luke Brooks nodded to the “ancient Greek – Olympic vibe”, and Chelsea alumna Louise Giblin has cast in metal the bodies of UK gymnast Beth Tweddle and double gold Olympian, Kelly Holmes. In addition, over 160 students from across the university are undertaking work placements with the London 2012 Ceremonies Team – a true once-in-a-lifetime experience.
My own ‘once-in-a-lifetime-experience’ will hopefully be meeting Ed Moses, the legendary and iconic American 400m hurdler, which I have been assured will happen when he next visits the London College of Fashion!
Read about UAL’s own medal-winning athletes and their work on an event that will be watched by a billion people in Jo’s previous blog.
Images courtesy UAL