THE BLOG

V&A Ban Students!

19/03/2013 16:24 GMT | Updated 18/05/2013 10:12 BST

Well not exactly 'ban' (that was just to get your attention) but they are changing the rules as to what students are allowed to do on their premises. Sketchpads in the temporary exhibitions are no longer allowed.

As an art student myself, I spent hours in museums and galleries with my sketchpad. I referred to those notes for years and the were a valuable source of inspiration to me. Students sketching away in museums is a familiar sight to us, but if this new policy continues, that may no longer be the case. On the V&A's very ownwebsite there is a quote form Le Corbusier, who says: Drawing in a sketchbook, teaches 'first to look, and then to observe and finally perhaps to discover ... and it is then that inspiration might come'.

A good friend of mine who teaches fashion writes:

"For the last 26 years I have taught fashion & textile design at FE and HE level, having graduated from Middlesex Polytechnic (now university) in 1972 with a Dip.A.D in Textile Design. As a student I spent many happy hours at the V&A, marvelling at the treasures within its walls, filling my sketchbooks and gaining many ideas from drawing the exhibits. The exhibitions there and in other museums have always been the first port of call when experiencing 'designer's block', and it is well documented how Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano frequented the place for inspiration for their collections.

It is widely recognised in fashion and other artistic circles that London is the creative hub of Europe. We are well known for our quirkiness and British designers have a special trait that those in other countries envy. This is partly due to the availability of access to such treasures that influence and feed into our design work.

Primary research, ie: drawing & photography are the cornerstones of design, and every art teacher & college lecturer will attest to this. One can only gasp in incredulity, therefore, to discover that it is now the V&A's policy to ban students from drawing in the temporary exhibitions. The reasons given were weak, to say the least. Copyright issues were mentioned, yet if an object is drawn, then that drawing of said object does not constitute a breach of copyright. It was also mentioned that the students would cause obstructions by stopping to draw, especially at busy times. Is it beyond the V&A to either extend their opening hours or better still, set aside a couple of hours a week for 'student drawing time'? I have been to many trade shows where the last couple of hours each day are when students are allowed and actively encouraged to visit, and I don't see why a similar system cannot be implemented at the V&A.

The V&A seems to be turning into yet another tourist attraction that is only interested in making money from the sales of books, postcards and other ephemera in the gift shop, rather than being a place of learning, promoting creativity and pushing the boundaries of design. Whilst books and postcards serve as an aide-memoire, 2D images are no substitute for analytical drawing from 3D.

It is a sad day for London and its art and design students that it has come to this, and such a short-sighted attitude sounds the death-knell of creativity for which we are so well known. The emphasis seems to be shifting from education to tourism and the V&A should remember the reason it is there in the first place - as a place of learning and not commerce".

Carole Semaine

This is really an outrageous policy and you can sign the petition here