V&A reveals new creative vision for V&A East, alongside first acquisitions
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V&A reveals new creative vision for V&A East, alongside first acquisitions
Materials from the V&A’s Archive of Art and Design, prepared to move to V&A East Storehouse. © Jamie Stoker. Image Courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

LONDON.- Today, Director Gus Casely-Hayford revealed further details about V&A East, the V&A’s new national museum complex in east London. One of the world’s most significant new museum projects, V&A East will comprise two sister sites currently under construction in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Opening at Here East in 2024, V&A East Storehouse offers a new immersive visitor experience taking visitors behind the scenes and providing unprecedented public access to 5,000 years of creativity. A short walk across the park, opening in 2025, V&A East Museum celebrates global creativity and making. Both sites are part of East Bank, the Mayor of London’s £1.1 billion Olympic legacy project, which will create a new arts, innovation and education hub in Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

V&A East builds on the V&A’s long-standing heritage in east London and founding mission to make the arts accessible to all, and will spotlight global stories of creativity, addressing the biggest challenges and subjects of our time. More than just a museum or collections store, it will be a creative campus and social space embedded within its local community. Making will be a central theme running across both sites, alongside a contemporary and engaged programme, and V&A East will celebrate the creative visionaries, pioneering radicals and extraordinary makers of the past and present. A non-linear approach to storytelling will place historic objects alongside contemporary works, linking different disciplines, geographies and time periods to prompt conversations on the latest issues shaping society today.

Underpinned by values of equity, empathy, openness and sustainability, V&A East is committed to creating opportunities for young people and fostering the next generation of creatives. It will focus on championing under-represented movements and voices to present a diverse range of perspectives, and highlight new forms of creative excellence to challenge the canon and showcase the dynamism and complexity of creativity and making from around the world. V&A East will collaborate with upcoming and established artists and designers, supporting new work, with the V&A’s collections acting as a creative catalyst, and the Storehouse and Museum as working studio spaces to platform new ideas.

Reflecting V&A East’s approach to collecting and storytelling, the first acquisitions will support stories about global creativity and motivations for making – whether as self-expression, creative experimentation or ways in which art, design and performance responds to broader social, cultural and environmental issues. Acquisitions announced today are:

• Thanks to generous support from Art Fund, American artist Kehinde Wiley’s 2020 portrait of east Londoner, Melissa Thompson, who the artist met at Ridley Road Market in Dalston – a market first founded in the late 1880s and that remains a vibrant community hub today. Part of Wiley’s The Yellow Wallpaper series, it represents the artist’s ongoing practice subverting historic European portraiture traditions, with works that elevate sitters and challenge perceptions of blackness, to raise important questions about race, identity and the politics of representation.

• Hackney-based British fashion designer Molly Goddard’s hot pink Daria dress from her Autumn Winter 2019 collection – a design worn by Beyoncé in her 2020 visual album Black is King. The full-length dress is made of 61 metres of tulle net fabric and was the largest dress that Goddard had ever made at the time of creation. The dress is inspired by baby doll dresses and is exaggerated in scale, celebrating the power of femininity.

• Ten photographic prints by British fashion photographer Jamie Hawkesworth from his 2011 – 2018 series, Preston Bus Station, building on his work as part of the Preston is my Paris collective. The series consists of portraits of passengers passing through the Grade II listed 1960s Brutalist station in Lancashire – which was threatened for demolition but later saved, with Hawkesworth’s photographic series forming part of the local campaign. The V&A is the first UK institution to acquire Hawkesworth’s work.

• A glazed ceramic frieze made up of 48 individual tiles, Auntie, Mum and Me talking about my Fabric Collection (2016) created by London-based artist Mawuena Kattah. Kattah made the work during her Ceramics Residency at the V&A, in partnership with the studio Intoart, which supports people with learning disabilities. Kattah’s work draws upon her extensive personal archive of family photographs taken in Ghana, alongside more recent studio photographs of her family taken in London.

• A visceral terracotta vessel, Itari by British-Nigerian artist Ranti Bam, who works between Lagos, London and Paris. Bam’s organic and sculptural vessels push clay to its limits, with surfaces embellished with colours, patterns, and textures inspired by her exploration of the written word.

Empowering young people and opening pathways into the creative industries is fundamental to V&A East, with an extensive outreach programme well underway and consulting with over 20,000 people to-date. The V&A East Youth Collective Programme, a rolling 6-month paid opportunity for locals aged between 16 and 25, will play a key role in shaping strategic decisions in the making of V&A East from programming, to opening hours, ticket prices and more. Interdisciplinary design collective RESOLVE has been appointed as V&A East’s first Youth Workers in Residence to help shape V&A East’s future youth programming. RESOLVE has been working with organisations across the four Olympic boroughs, including Hackney Quest and Blackhorse Road Responders, to run a series of creative workshops exploring young people’s connection to their local area as an opportunity for creative practice. Their work will culminate in a series of installations, designed and delivered in locations across the Olympic boroughs in collaboration with the young people.

Creative agency A Vibe Called Tech, whose work explores the intersection of black creativity, culture and innovation, has recently joined the V&A East project as part of a new creative residency supported by Google Arts and Culture. They will collaborate with young people on a series of digital content experiments that will inform V&A East’s evolving creative programme.

Gus Casely-Hayford, V&A East Director, said: “V&A East will build on the V&A’s long-standing heritage in east London and founding mission to make the arts accessible to all. We are shaping a new creative campus and social space, and by working closely in partnership with our local communities, will highlight the cultural dynamism, youth and creativity of east London. We want to amplify the role museums play as a platform for discovery, hope and conversation in our rapidly changing world, to help foster the next generation of Alexander McQueens.”

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