Celebrating London 2012 Evening Reception
A rare bout of sunshine greeted guests to UAL’s Celebrating London 2012 evening reception: a portent, with any luck, to a bright summer ahead of art, culture and sport. The mood inside the Platform Theatre at Central Saint Martins was equally sunny, as guests mingled with students, staff and alumni amongst the Olympic and Paralympic-themed artwork and design on display.
We were there to celebrate the vital role that artists and designers have played in making the Games happen, and in particular, that of the University of the Arts London’s own community. Extending far and wide – from students to alumni and lecturers – and encompassing all manner of artistic practice, the community of creatives is woven through the fabric of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The evening’s event communicated this message, through its guest speakers and the judicious selection of projects on display around the space.
Guests were invited to have fun with Wiff Waff VI; a gilded ping-pong table by the sculptor, and Chelsea College of Art and Design alumna, Susan Forsyth. On a sabbatical from its installation at the British Royal Society of Sculptors, the table lay in anticipation of zealous wiff-waff amateurs and enthusiasts, who came – and conquered – and earned themselves medals for their efforts.
In the centre of the foyer stood Musical Torch – the result of a collaboration between Central Saint Martins students and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, when they engaged in creative workshops with 140 children from Islington schools. Susannah Simons, BBC Project Executive, 2012 Cultural Olympiad, spoke of this collaboration later on in the evening when she mapped out the BBC’s commitment to the Games through three key themes: music, Shakespeare, London. Musical Torch – part of Music Nation – was just one of the Cultural Olympiad projects in which students from the university have been involved.
Elsewhere in the foyer was evidence of further creative endeavours: high-quality prints from i-Sustain, a London College of Fashion project with i-D magazine; images of the ParalympicsGB visual identity by CSM students; Sir Anthony Caro’s gold kilo coin; LCC alumnus Rodrigo Enriquez’ commemorative 50 pence coin and senior lecturer, Lin Cheung’s, Paralympic medals.
LCC alumnus Lorenzo Belenguer’s TESTIMONIES was installed in its own theatre space, to dramatic effect, while he himself was on hand to collect more Olympic and Paralympic testimonies from guests – these were posted to the project’s Facebook page throughout the night.
Olympian Series II – Beth Tweddle MBE, by body cast sculptor and Chelsea College of Art and Design alumna Louise Giblin, was proudly displayed in the foyer and gave guests the chance to see, ahead of its exhibition in the Mall Galleries, the exquisite detail with which it was made. Its counterpart, Olympian Series VI – Dame Kelly Holmes, glittered on stage like a relic in the dark while guest speakers’ gave their presentations in the theatre.
The presentations were preceded by an introduction from Sir John Tusa, Chairman of the UAL’s Court of Governors, who described the scope of the university’s engagement.
Geraldine Collinge, Director of Events and Exhibitions at the Royal Shakespeare Company, spoke of Central Saint Martins’ involvement in the World Shakespeare Festival 2012. MA Communication Design students were commissioned to ‘recode’ Shakespeare and their work features on the new digital platform, myShakespeare. Collinge spoke of how deeply impressed she is with the results, and the way in which they made her rethink Shakespeare. Check back to the blog soon for a report on this exciting collaboration.
Alisdair Leighton-Crawford was on-hand to represent the student contingent. Detailing his transition from GB rower to sportswear designer, he explained how his passion for sport and creativity led him to LCF’s BA Active Sportswear course, where he is currently finishing his second year of study. His pioneering Livewire Freescape Jacket was on display in the foyer.
CSM member of staff and jewellery designer, Lin Cheung, talked about her experience of designing London 2012’s Paralympic medals. She described her journey, from the moment the email dropped into her inbox, and the trials, tribulations and sheer serendipity that ensued. (After deciding the sculpture she wanted to reference was Nike of Paionios – the original resides in Greece – she discovered fortuitously that here in London was a plaster cast that she could have access to; in Olympia, West Kensington!) It has been two years this summer since Cheung began work on this project: “I’m really looking forward to seeing them being worn – I think that’s the longest I’ve had to wait for a piece of work to be seen on the body!”
Martin Richman is an artist and a CSM alumnus whose One Whirl commission has unfurled in an Olympic Park bridge and underpass. Resplendent in a Wiff-Waff medal, he described his influences and the fact that he has designed very much with a sense of legacy in mind. “I’m very keen that whatever we all collectively do connected to the Olympic Park, that there’s some sort of strong legacy that speaks of the Olympics but also carries on speaking to ordinary people as they inhabit the park,” he said.
Legacy and lasting connections were key themes of the reception, which ended buoyantly and with a sense of optimism. Long-term working relationships and creative partnerships – fostered initially by the singular theme of the Games and set to continue for a long time after the last race has run – were touched upon by others and felt collectively throughout the night.
Friday, May 11th, 2012
Tags: 2012, alasdair leighton crawford, alumni, bbc, camberwell, Central Saint Martins, Chelsea, CSM, Cultural Olympiad, geraldine collinge, LCC, LCF, legacy, lin cheung, louise giblin, martin richman, narrative environments, olympic reception, rsc, sir john tusa, staff, students, susannah simons, Testimonies
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