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21st century design inspired by the past

19 March 2015 by Lisa

Porcelain letters with screen printed phrases

Porcelain envelopes with screen printed phrases by Faye Johnson.

A new display by design students from Liverpool Hope University has just gone on display at the Walker Art Gallery. ‘Back to the Future’ is a display of new work created by the students as a response to historic pieces in the collections of the Walker Art Gallery. 

This project forms part of an ongoing partnership between the university and National Museums Liverpool and will be the third in a series of biennial displays.

Here’s our Assistant Curator of Decorative Art, Nicola Scott to explain more about it:

“We began in October 2014 by inviting a group of students behind the scenes, to show them a range of objects from the glass, ceramic, costume and metalwork collections. These were grouped together to illustrate the themes of ‘communication’, ‘commemoration and remembrance’ and ‘status and use’.

All then went quiet for a while, but the students were busy in their studio creating contemporary design objects inspired by our collections.

“My final work was inspired by the letters we were shown in the Walker handling session. During World War II  my grandfather was working at sea. I created a memory box of my grandfather using photographs of him and the porcelain envelopes.” – Faye Johnson, student.

Antique lady's shoe.

An 18th century shoe from our decorative art collections, provided inspiration for the students.

In January this year, I selected eight pieces from the studio at the Creative Campus to display in the Craft and Design Gallery of the Walker. I was delighted by the high quality and originality of the work and the final selection was a difficult choice.

I was fascinated by the way that some of the designers had drawn inspiration from the same object and yet had created contrasting pieces from different aspects of the original.

The work on display at the Walker takes inspiration from a feather fan, jewellery made from human hair, nineteenth-century letters and wax seal impressions, a silver-plated coffee pot and my own favourite, a pair of silk brocade shoes worn by a lady in about 1740.

“Inspired by the elaborate detail of the artefacts depicting the theme ‘Status’ I chose to study 18th century design and its decorative qualities. My work is based on the spiraling curves and nature influenced motifs found in French Rococo design.” – Ami Dolling, student

This was the first time that I have been involved and the enthusiasm of the students has been an inspiration in itself.

Jug on a wheel

Work in progress – a jug inspired by French Rococo design, by Ami Dolling.

Don’t miss this display, which will be on show until Sunday 10 May 2015 at the Walker Art Gallery. More works from this project can be seen at the Cornerstone Gallery at Liverpool Hope University.

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