On November 30th, Cambridge School of Visual and Performing Arts (CSVPA) in collaboration with The Fitzwilliam Museum hosted a special Museum Late event that offered an immersive, creative response to the landmark ‘Black Atlantic: Power, People, Resistance’ exhibition. The event allowed for a new diversity of creative voices to be heard within the heart of a traditional intellectual landscape.
The ‘Black Atlantic’ exhibition draws on international collections as well as from the Fitzwilliam and University of Cambridge’s collections and challenges perspectives on the city’s history, uncovering the connections between Richard Fitzwilliam’s contributions to the University of Cambridge and the wealth amassed through the transatlantic slave trade. It showcases objects and artworks, highlighting their influence on historical narratives and societal perspectives.
Produced by Adrian Shaw, who pioneered the museum ‘Late’ model at Tate Britain, the Museum Late was co-curated by CSVPA students with alumni and staff’s creative responses to the stories uncovered and told within the exhibition. Working with various mediums, students presented responses through fashion design, visual art and music that sought to highlight narratives and stories often excluded from mainstream creative collections.
Set against an impressive marble staircase, second year BA Fashion students presented a collection created in collaboration with fashion collective Dancing on Ruins. The work showcased various techniques, including elaborate embroidery and creative use of materials. Each piece reflects and responds to the exhibition’s themes in a sensitive but thought-provoking manner. Including young artists’ work in a world-regarded museum shifts the narrative that only established creatives deserve a space to share stories and work. At the same time, alumni students Taja Freser, George Martin, Lydia Gao and Lexie Zhang presented their Graduate Fashion Week nominated and award-winning final collections.
Carey Robinson, Deputy Director of Learning and Public Programmes at The Fitzwilliam Museum, said “We are really delighted to be working with CSVPA and so many talented students to curate the Museum Late for the first time.”
Providing a soundtrack to the event, CSVPA Foundation Diploma Music students performed a DJ set of original tracks in collaboration with Cambridge-based DJ Bosslady. In the same space, Fashion Branding and Creative Communication and Graphic and Illustration students presented illustrations, graphics and animations that responded to the Fitzwilliam Collection and highlighted hidden narratives from within the Fashion Industry.
CSVPA invited emerging, Cambridge-based creative collective Disruption to be part of the collaboration with the Fitz,whose work challenges perceptions and norms in the local arts scene. Disruption’s activities throughout the evening included powerful spoken word poetry, violin performances and emotive interpretive dance. They also delivered a panel discussion on constricting expectations and personal artistic expression as students within Cambridge.
Karin Askham, CSVPA’s Rector, also emphasized the importance of art in addressing societal challenges, stating, “Art can be a catalyst for change, and our partnership with the Fitzwilliam Museum allows our students to ask searching questions and create discussion and debate with their responses.”
This unusual Late event offered visitors an immersive opportunity to engage with newly revealed, thought-provoking narratives from the Fitzwilliam Collection and contemporary art responses to the themes of the ‘Black Atlantic’ exhibition. It encouraged reflection on interconnected histories and the possibilities for a fairer future. The ‘Black Atlantic: Power, People, Resistance’ exhibition continues to offer a poignant perspective, urging us to rethink our pasts, present, and pave the way for a more hopeful and equitable future.
The exhibition is running until January 7th – find out how to visit at the Fitzwilliam Museum’s website