Tuesday, 6 May 2014

#Inspiration Examined

Museums often make claims for the ‘inspirational’ nature of their collections. But the question of how ‘inspiration’ actually happens in the creative process is often implicit rather than explicit. 

Students from a variety of courses already use the collections of the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MoDA) for inspiration.  Some are able to engage with the collections confidently; they feel that they have gained valuable insight by doing so, and can see how it relates to their own work.  Many other professional creative practitioners also come to MoDA, and find the experience incredibly useful for their work. However, for some students, particularly first year undergraduates, looking at 'old stuff' can appear confusing and and opaque, leaving them frustrated and confused by the process rather than inspired.

We thought it would be useful to try to gain a better understanding of exactly what's going on when a creative person looks at museum collections and declares themselves to be 'inspired'.  MoDA has been working with University of the Arts London as part of a research project funded by Share Academy.

Our research considers the processes of ‘inspiration’ by using qualitative interviewing as the means to articulate and make manifest how designers use museum collections.  Previous research in the field has looked at the visual aspect of ‘influence’, or how history informs current creative practices; but the process by which this occurs has not been articulated. 

We're hoping to understand the process of inspiration better, so that we can give better support to students who struggle by being clearer about what we hope will happen when they engage with museum collections. We have video interviewed seven students from the MA Textiles course at Chelsea College of Art; talking to us about about objects they chose from MoDA's collections and why they found them interesting and inspiring.  We'll be publishing clips from these interviews here soon, along with some initial thoughts about our findings.

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