© V&A IMAGES
© ERIN HOPKINS
© PINK FLOYD AND V&A IMAGES
28 March 2018
by Gian Luca Amadei
The Victoria and Albert Museum is one of the 6 recipients of the British Council Art Connects Us research grant. Anna Landreth Strong Curator: Modern and Contemporary Performance at the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance will be leading on this research project in West Africa (Ghana). Read more about her work and ambitions with this research opportunity
Please tell us about you and your work
I am a Curator in the Department of Theatre and Performance at the V&A, working with the Modern and Contemporary Performance collections. Founded in the 1920s, today the Theatre and Performance Collections include drama, rock and pop, dance, circus, puppetry and film. The V&A is a leading institution of art, design and performance and our collections and programme have a strong emphasis on creative process and design. Collecting and preserving an ephemeral art form like theatre or music has specific and interesting challenges – we collect designs, photographs, ephemera, costume, models, props and instruments, books and business papers. A central and significant strand of our collections is the audio visual archive, principally the National Video Archive of Performance where we record and preserve live drama and musicals on film. We also produce live events focusing on music and performance – concerts, pop-up plays, spoken word and dance works – integrating them into the V&A gallery spaces. In recent years, the Department has curated a series of high profile music-led exhibitions. Recently I worked as Curatorial Producer on The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains.
Why did you apply for Art Connects Us?
Collaborating with colleagues internationally allows us to exchange knowledge, information and best practice examples and is an important part of what we do at the Museum. Art Connects Us is an exciting opportunity for me to do this. Working with the British Council and their networks in Ghana alongside the V&A’s contacts will enable me to connect in person with colleagues and institutions, and gain access to collections. Ghana has a significant performance sector across genres including live and recorded music, dance, theatre and ceremonial performance. There are many organisations, both large and small, who work across these disciplines and who are dedicated to producing and/or archiving performance. I am very interested in gaining an insight into the practice of other institutions who, like us, are committed to the preservation of ephemeral performance heritage, and exchanging examples and skills with them.
Where are you going and what are you researching?
I am travelling to Accra, Ghana, to visit museums, performance venues, libraries and collections. Whilst there I will connect with colleagues to find out more about their practice, exchange ideas, and discuss opportunities for future collaborations.
What are you looking forward to most about your trip?
I am most looking forward to meeting colleagues with whom I have been corresponding over email in person to share ideas and information. I am excited to be able to visit Accra’s music and performance archives, viewing their holdings first hand and using their collections and resources as a researcher. Particularly, I am looking forward to visiting the University of Ghana’s collection, the National Museum, and the BAPMAF High Life Archive and Museum. I expect that by speaking to colleagues when I arrive, I’ll discover lots of other interesting suggestions for people and places to visit. And of course, I am also looking forward to visiting some great live music venues.