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Viridescent Practice: A Green Week Roundup

Yifei Chen’s designs
Written by
Colin Buttimer
Published date
23 February 2018

Mask made from recycled materials by Yifei Chen, Performance Design and Practice Foundation student. © Kathleen Hills

Between 8 and 12 February, staff and students were invited to take part in a series of activities engaging with green thinking and sustainability issues. Among the events were film screenings, debates and even a vegan picnic. Here’s a brief run down of some of the highlights.

We hosted some fantastic lectures from practitioners who embed sustainability into their work. Santiago Cirugeda, a “guerilla” architect and activist gave a talk about his practice, which works to recapture public space through provocative urban playgrounds that negotiate between the legal and illegal. Chris Sherwin, Head of Sustainability at Seymourpowell also visited CSM to speak about his work at one of the world’s leading design and innovation consultancies.

Meanwhile on The Street, Professor Ralph Ball, Subject Leader on the Furniture pathway of MA Design, invited staff and students to resurface the canteen’s Tabloid Tables in the Goods Shed Bar. These were partly covered using London’s free recyclable newspapers, and are still in residence if you’re interested in popping down to take a look.

Green Week also saw some brilliant student work put on display, including the Shakespeare is Dead/1616 Exhibition hosted by Performance Design and Practice Foundation students, in which the classic performance was transformed into a modern version inspired by comic strips. The students wore huge, 3D masks representing characters from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which were created by Yifei Chen from recycled materials sourced from the Central Saint Martins loading bay and the PDP department.

Yifei Chen's designs

Yifei Chen’s initial designs

Speaking about the inspirations behind her designs, Yifei explained:

The idea came from Ai Weiwei’s coloured vases. He painted the Han Dynasty pots with bright colours, which was a big transformation. At the beginning of this project, I wondered how to give the characters a new look on the stage. I went to some museums and galleries for inspiration, and I was very interested in the Japanese Nō’s masks in the Victoria & Albert museum. The Nō is a 14th century dance-drama performed on a sparsely decorated stage with finely carved masks. The masks shown in the museum are very lively with concise and agile outline.

Other performance pieces took place in the Crossing too, including ‘The Complete Deaths of Shakespeare’, a grisly reenactment of all 74 scripted deaths written by the playwright.

Finally, our Art Shop developed ‘The Art Shop Laymen’s Guide to Carbon Footprint and Bags‘ and offered all cotton tote bags at a reduced price of £1 to encourage the re-use of bags with the aim of ultimately decreasing our carbon footprint. Throughout the week the shop also hosted a free packaging materials collection point to encourage the reuse and repurposing of discarded materials.

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