As part of the Revealing Stories element of the Ancient Egypt and East Asia National Programme, National Museums Scotland has been working in partnership with the Creative Pipeline Project through Perth Museum and Art Gallery to engage and inspire young people with local East Asian collections in creative and innovative ways.
The Creative Pipeline Project supports young people between the ages of 16-25 to develop transferable skills, work experience and confidence within creative industries. Over the past few months, eight young people have been developing new creative skills for learning, life and work. This has been achieved through designing and producing their own products inspired by the East Asian objects in the Dress to Impress exhibition at Perth Museum and Art Gallery. Dress to Impress was a temporary display showcasing traditional dress and accessories from Perth’s local collections, as well as object loans from National Museums Scotland. Three of the young people taking part in the project were taking part in the project as a placement in practical workplace skills.
As part of the project, the young people got the opportunity to take part in an exclusive tour of the exhibition with Perth Museum’s Communities Officer. Feedback from young people on the exhibition conveyed that their enthusiasm and interest in Perth Museum’s East Asian collections as a result of this experience has increased.
“I really liked the exhibition to begin with, it was great to do a project based around it… I liked experimenting in the design process… I really like Japanese culture and I want to visit Japan one day”
– Young person’s experience of Dress to Impress
“I came to the exhibition four or five times and I tried to bring my friends too”
– Young person’s experience of Dress to Impress exhibition
“I loved it… I absolutely loved it [the exhibition] and I’m sad its gone now”
– Young person’s experience of Dress to Impress exhibition.
“I was, artistically fascinated…and culturally interested, I learnt a lot about how they [Japanese woodblock printmakers] express themselves through art and the detail was insane”
– Young person on Dress to Impress exhibition’s Japanese Woodblock Prints
As well as connecting young people to East Asian collections through the temporary exhibition, the project gave participants the opportunity to get creative, develop new skills and learn about the process of setting up their own business by making products to sell at the Perthshire Creates Design Market.
Through working with artist and printmaker Leena Nammari, as well as graphic designer Stuart at The Workshop Aberfeldy, the young people got the opportunity to learn how to use creative software and specialist machinery. This included bookbinding, lino printing and laser cutting, to produce their own products inspired by the East Asian display at Perth Museum.
The products they developed included hand-bound notebooks, Christmas tree baubles, gift tags, lino print and laser cut cards and keyrings. Many of the young people taking part in the project also contributed to the running of the stall at the design fair.
At the beginning of the project, the young people were asked to think about what they wanted to get out of their experience of taking part. Their identified outcomes included learning new skills that would be useful in their futures, gaining experience of setting up a business, and learning more about East Asian culture. The project’s ongoing evaluation efforts, including a group focusing on reflection skills, evidenced that the project delivered many of the desired outcomes identified by the young people, as well some other unexpected positive outcomes. One young person commented that they would be delighted to see a permanent display of East Asian collections in Scotland, as they enjoyed the project and exhibition so much. They were excited to learn that this will soon be the case.
Helen O’Brien, Creative Pipeline Project Officer at Culture Perth Kinross said:
“This project has been a great opportunity to work in partnership with National Museums Scotland, it has enabled Creative Pipeline members to learn a whole spectrum of skills and process from analogue to digital, with great support from professional artist and partner organisations. The catalyst of an inspiring exhibition, and experience of working with Creative Professionals has supported young people to create and deliver fantastic ideas and products. ”
This project was a fantastic opportunity to engage with young people in a new and innovative way as part of the Ancient Egypt and East Asia National Programme, and experiment with new ways of connecting audiences to museum collections.
The Ancient Egypt and East Asia National Programme has been made possible thanks to the generous support of the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund. Revealing Stories has been made possible thanks to the Collections Fund, delivered by the Museums Association.