Vic Reeves and BBC4 came to Central Saint Martins to put six recent graduates through their Bauhaus paces
Marking the centenary of the celebrated art and design school, Bauhaus Rules brought exercises from the German school’s history into the contemporary context of Central Saint Martins. Six graduates – Lydia Blagden (BA Graphic Communication Design), Katie May Boyd (MA Material Futures), Amar Sall (BA Architecture), Dominic-Afsheen Akhavan-Moossavi (BA Fashion Design), Elizabeth Deacon (Foundation Diploma in Art and Design) and Lisa Darrer (BA Fine Art) – were the brave souls putting themselves through the Bauhaus regimen for a week.
The master and pupil structure of the German art and design school was mirrored in the programme as experts such as David Batchelor, Neville Brody and Holly Fulton presented challenges to the graduates. Exercises ranged from Kandinsky’s colour theory and Moholy Nagy’s photomontage to the final flurry which saw everyone collaborate on a Metal Party inspired by Oskar Schlemmer.
Writing in The Times, Joe Clay said the programme was “an idiosyncratic way of learning about an idiosyncratic subject. A bit like art school itself,” while Michael Hogan in The Daily Telegraph described it as “a playful paean to creative freedom and collaborative spirit”.
Asked about their experience making the programme, the graduates reflected how they approached the week. "I already know what I’m good and bad at and the experience reaffirmed that,” reflects BA Fashion graduate Dominic-Afsheen Akhavan-Moossavi, “I knew it was my chance to have fun. I wasn't putting my creativity on the line. None of the exercises were fashion-related so I wasn’t judged on my fashion skills. I could simply have fun and share my process."
"I had a character arc definitely,” says Amar Sall, BA Architecture, “the colour theory day was a disaster. Thankfully they didn't show much of me. It was all about this air-drying clay lamp I was trying to make. It was a classic Great British Bake-Off moment when the disastrous cake comes out of the oven."
Process was at the centre of the experience, with the artists and designers given free-range in workshops that they may never have used during their studies. "For me it was the processes that were the most interesting,” says Sall, “I'd never set foot in the darkroom and the letterpress workshop before and we were the only ones there, being asked to just go and create."
Bauhaus Rules brought together graduates from across the College’s disciplines:
"In architecture we collaborate a lot naturally but it was good to be around such a diverse group of creative people. We are all from this College community so we have that connection but we think very differently. For example, watching Lydia stitch was incredible – I don't know how to do that so would never think that way."
"You can be put into a collaboration but also you need to put yourself out there. I’m at the photocopier looking at what someone’s doing in front of me and if I like the look of it, I start up a conversation. That’s what Central Saint Martins pushes you to be independent and self-directed."
For both, the value was in demystifying the creative process. 'The programme was all action, action, action but there was a lot of process that didn't make the cut,” says BA Architecture graduate Amar Sall, “There was a lot of discussion and a little disagreement about what and why we were doing things in a certain way... A century on from Bauhaus, what’s changed? What have we learnt? Art schools are different so how do we reflect back and move forward?"
As part of OurHaus: 100 Years of Bauhaus, a week-long festival at Central Saint Martins and Camberwell College of Arts, on 21 October there will be a screening of Bauhaus Rules followed by a discussion between a few of the participating graduates, the makers of the programme and Head of Central Saint Martins Jeremy Till.