What I See Meets…The Victoria and Albert Museum’s Memory Palace

“If you could only keep one memory, what would it be?”

This is the premise behind The Victoria and Albert Museum’s latest exhibition, Sky Arts Ignition: Memory Palace.

Based on Hari Kunzru’s dystopian novel, Memory Palace, the intricately decorated interior of the museum reveals the thoughts of the protagonist, with plays on his language, his thoughts and his senses.

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Images courtesy of The Victoria and Albert Museum.

Experimenting with graphic art to tell the story and place the language in the context of the narrative, the exhibition reveals a distorted view of the world, with a single memory being the only part of a human that can ultimately survive.

Beautifully illustrated posters conclude the exhibition, incorporating memories from every visitor. You can add your contribution to a poster by drawing or writing your memory on the spot – you’ll then receive an email indicating when it is on display at the V&A.

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The V&A is open daily from 10am-5.45pm and from 10am-10pm on Fridays. The Memory Palace exhibition runs until October 20, 2013.

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Girls fight back against the stereotypical ‘pink toy aisle’

By Harlen Leonard

A new video has caused storm in cyberspace. Whatever could it be? Could it be women doing sport in heels? Dustin Hoffman crying over his once shallow views on women? Lil Bub‘s Birthday?

Actually, all of these videos have been causing a bit of a fuss, but The What I See Project team has fallen in love with this campaign.

The video below shows a group of young girls rebelling against stereotypical ‘girly toys’ (we even see a pair of ballet pumps get nailed to a skateboard to improve balance) and storm the ‘pink aisle’ of a local toy shop. I’m particularly impressed by their ‘Not Just a Princess’ T-shirts covered in dirt and grease.

The advert comes from GoldieBlox, a toy designed to get girls interested in engineering, and clearly shows that gender stereotypes need to be a thing of the past. This video is hilarious, full of emotion, and reminds me of being a young pink-hating girl!

The GoldieBlox YouTube description reads: “The odds are against us. We’ve been told that GoldieBlox can’t survive in mass stores next to Barbie. Convention says that engineering toys for girls are a ‘niche’ for the affluent and for the Internet. Together, we must prove convention wrong.”

I, for one, think that this advert and toy could not have come sooner.

BlondieBox gives young girls a chance to explore engineering at an early age. At last! A toy and advert for all the girls that hate the ‘pink toy aisle’ and prefer protective goggles over Barbie-branded sunglasses. Hurrah!

“Who am I?” We found out at the Science Museum, London

By Marése O’Sullivan

The What I See Project explores female empowerment and self-perception through the videos we share on our website. So the team headed to the Science Museum in London to check out its latest exhibition, ‘Who Am I?’

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Who Am I? invites you to explore the science of who you are through intriguing objects, provocative artworks and hands-on exhibits.

Discover what your voice sounds like as a member of the opposite sex, morph your face to see what you’ll look like as you age, or collect DNA to catch a criminal in our brand-new interactive exhibits.

Investigate some of the characteristics that make humans such a successful species, such as personality, intelligence and language.

Reflect on the big questions that new techniques in science are raising, and explore how your genetics and brain combine to create your unique identity.

– The Science Museum

The exhibition was certainly very interactive, with plenty of insights into everything from our genetic make-up, to our unique identity, to how feminine or masculine we think we are.

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The What I See interns, Harlen and Marése, are shown on the Science Museum’s graphics

There was more of an emphasis on tests and games for you to figure out what makes you who you are:

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I rather liked the more factual side of the exhibition. Computers dotted around the museum gave us the chance to click into the subjects that interested us the most, from ‘Why do we dream?’ to ‘Why are we not immortal?’ to ‘Are phobias inherited?’

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Of course, our family and ancestors make up a huge part of who we are physically. As a genealogist, I was intrigued by this component. I could search for my surname in the 1881 and 1998 censuses and see what places in Britain were most populated by people with that surname during those years. There were also documents provided by the descendant of a World War One soldier, including his birth certificate and a portrait of him as a young man, which really added a true human touch to this scientific exhibit.

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Overall, we very much enjoyed the Who Am I? Exhibition at the Science Museum. You can check out the trailer for it below.

If you’d like to share with us what you think makes you who you are, you can upload your own video to our website.

Are you going to watch the Battle of the Sexes?

By Harlen Leonard

Today (June 26th) will see the release of the much-anticipated documentary Battle of the Sexes.

Poster and trailer belonging to Live For Films

Poster and trailer were found on Live For Films. Click here for more details.

The film’s historical footage chronicles Billie Jean King‘s journey from amateur tennis player to her 1973 defeat of Bobby Riggs, the match that earned her instant respect as a feminist icon.

King was the number one American world tennis champion and won 39 Grand Slam titles, including 12 singles, 16 women’s doubles, and 11 mixed doubles titles. She also founded the Women’s Tennis Association and Women’s Sports Foundation.

In 1973, Bobby Riggs challenged the leading women of the tennis world to beat him in a match. At the time, he was quoted as saying “I want to prove that women are lousy, [that] they stink [and] they don’t belong on the same court as a man.”

The 55-year-old first challenged Margaret Court, on the basis that no women could beat him even at his age, and he won on May 13, 1973. This caught Billie Jean’s attention.

Riggs said: “Billie Jean King is one of the all-time tennis greats. She’s one of the superstars, she’s ready for the big one, but she doesn’t stand a chance against me. Women’s tennis is so far beneath men’s tennis.”

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Image of Billie Jean King – courtesy of The Huffington Post.

On September 20, 1973, Riggs and King met each other at the Houston Astrodome, where Billie Jean went on to beat her competitor and instantly became a figurehead for the feminist movement. Over 1 million people watched the match on television and it is still considered to be the most-viewed match in tennis history.

This must-see film, produced by King, contains historical footage as well as interviews from Margaret Court, Chris Evert, and Venus and Serena Williams.

It is released in cinemas today. Let us know if you’re going to see it!

Watch the trailer below:

Free this weekend? Here are our top five events to check out in London…

By Marése O’Sullivan

1) Head to see Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth at the Old Vic, for a stunning portrayal of a woman grasping the ageing process.

Directed by Olivier-Award winner Marianne Elliott and starring Kim Cattrall, best known for her role as Samantha from Sex and the City, alongside Seth Numrich, the play challenges the apparent glamour of showbusiness through a cross-generational sexual relationship.

Fading Hollywood legend Alexandra Del Lago (Cattrall) flees the disastrous premiere of her comeback film. Travelling incognito, she seeks refuge in drink, drugs and the arms of Chance Wayne (Numrich), an idealistic young dreamer turned gigolo. A trip to Chance’s hometown in a bid to win back his childhood sweetheart sees their relationship of convenience unravel in Tennessee Williams’ vivid and haunting portrait of the destruction of dreams.

Trailer (all copyright to The Old Vic):

 

2) Buckingham Palace is playing host to the couture of monarchs past with its exhibition, In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion at The Queen’s Gallery.

Gain an insight into the role fashion would have played in your place in society during 1485-1714.

This exhibition explores the sumptuous costume of British monarchs and their court during the 16th and 17th centuries through portraits in the Royal Collection. During this period fashion was central to court life and was an important way to display social status. Royalty and the elite were the tastemakers of the day, often directly influencing the styles of fashionable clothing.

In Fine Style follows the changing fashions of the period [and] demonstrates the spread of styles internationally and shows how clothing could convey important messages. Including works by Hans Holbein the Younger, Nicholas Hilliard, Van Dyck and Peter Lely, the exhibition brings together over 60 paintings, as well as drawings, garments, jewellery, accessories and armour.

Images courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust.

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3) An all-female cast is taking to the stage at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre to perform their tour production of The Taming of the Shrew. At the time of posting, a few tickets remain for the midnight show on Friday 21. It will be played out on a traditional booth stage, just like in the Elizabethan era.

Directed by Joe Murphy, the renowned comedy features Kate Lamb as Katherina, Olivia Morgan as Bianca/Biondello, and Leah Whitaker as Petruchio.

The show will tour the U.K., Europe and – for the first time ever for a Globe Theatre tour – Asia.

Image courtesy of Shakespeare's Globe
Image courtesy of Shakespeare’s Globe.

 

4) The Propaganda: Power and Persuasion exhibition at the British Library showcases international state propaganda spanning the 20th and 21st centuries.

Box office tickets will not be available online this Sunday June 23, but can be purchased in person at the British Library.

The exhibition costs £9 for adults – under 18s go free – and concessions are also available.

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Portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte in his robes of state from the British Library exhibition. Image courtesy of the British Library.

5) Discover who you really are at the Science Museum.

The free Who am I? Exhibition on the Wellcome Wing, First Floor, uses the latest technology to examine what makes us who we are. With MRI scan helmets, electrotherapy machines and bionic eyes, it’s sure to be a dynamic experience.

Who am I? invites you to explore the science of who you are through intriguing objects, provocative artworks and hands-on exhibits.

Discover what your voice sounds like as a member of the opposite sex, morph your face to see what you’ll look like as you age, or collect DNA to catch a criminal in our brand-new interactive exhibits.

Investigate some of the characteristics that make humans such a successful species, such as personality, intelligence and language.

Reflect on the big questions that new techniques in science are raising, and explore how your genetics and brain combine to create your unique identity.

Let us know what events you attend!

Ladies Who Impress: A Night of Celebration

By Marése O’Sullivan

The What I See team headed to Cecil Sharp House in Camden on Monday to check out the Ladies Who Impress event, organised by Jana Bakunina.

The theme was ‘London In Her Eyes’, and the host made sure to quiz her guests of honour on how they see London. Jana herself moved to London from Ekaterinburg in Russia over a decade ago and has since established a career in media. With wonderful guest speakers in the shape of Jenny Dawson, founder of chutneys and jam business Rubies in the Rubble; Katherine Grainger, Olympic gold medallist and Homicide PhD graduate; and Xiaolu Guo, filmmaker, novelist and one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists 2013, we were certainly inspired.

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Ladies Who Impress: Founder Jana Bakunina

“In the modern day and age, whom do professional women, juggling work and family, balancing desire to look good with cravings for treats, carrying The Economist and Grazia in their totes, find impressive?” writes Jana on her blog. “I realised that there are lots of amazing women out there from very diverse backgrounds. […] And so I have decided to do something to celebrate those amazing ladies and inspire other women to be more confident, daring, creative, enjoy life and give more to others.”

Jana plans to regularly host events to encourage interaction with women in the public eye who have made huge achievements. Sponsored by GOSH Food and fundraising for Alzheimer’s Disease International, Ladies Who Impress was a true revelation of the strength and determination of these women.

“Entrepreneur, athlete, writer…let’s look beyond these labels,” said Jana.

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JENNY DAWSON, Founder of Rubies in the Rubble

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Jenny’s home-grown company, Rubies in the Rubble, started in November 2010 and the young entrepreneur, who has a Masters in Maths from Edinburgh University, has quickly developed a knowledge of her market. Inspired by her mum, Jenny hit on the idea of using surplus fruit and vegetables to make delicious and resourceful chutneys and jams. Now she’s selling 300 jars a day.

“I stumbled across something I was passionate about,” smiled 27-year-old Jenny. “I realised I can make a really fun business out of [food that could be] wasted.” She said that approximately 60% of thrown out food is good. She employs several disadvantaged people at her stalls and kitchens to help them get their pride and self-confidence back in a work environment – two of the women that work for her are homeless.

Her chutneys and jams have had interest from America and she plans to expand the range of products that she and her business partner Alicia Lawson currently produce. “I guess the thing that all entrepreneurs have in common is a little naivité or lack of fear,” she declared. “Even if you fail, give it your best shot. I care about it so much – [but] if it all goes to pot, I’ll try and laugh about it…if possible!”

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KATHERINE GRAINGER, Olympic gold medallist and PhD graduate of Homicide Studies

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Although she is a three-time Olympic silver medalist and a six-time World Champion, Katherine revealed the struggles she went through to achieve victory as an Olympian. She fell into rowing at university. The mantra behind her team’s first silver Olympic medal was “We’ve never really reached our limits. Why don’t we tap into something we’ve never tried before? We believed it was possible – the different mindset transformed us.” Her competitive nature encouraged her to pursue the sport, but it also led to downcast periods in her life where she felt disappointed in herself. “I genuinely felt like a massive failure,” she said of not receiving gold at Beijing in 2008. “It was really tough to come to terms with it.”

She promised her mum that she’d compete at London 2012, although she didn’t know if she would at the time. “[Mum had said] ‘Promise me you’ll be in London, because I know you can do it.’ It’s just hard work,” she told us. “You don’t make assumptions [that it will not be].” Her determination paid off at the 2012 Olympics when she won gold in the double skulls with Anna Watkins. “I love what [the sport] brings out in me…the journey is worth it.”

She revealed that Princess Anne told her that she had no foreknowledge of the Queen’s surprise appearance in the James Bond spoof during the Opening Ceremony. When the Princess asked the Queen what made her do it, Her Majesty apparently declared: “We needed to find a way to beat Beijing!”

XIAOLU GUO, filmmaker and novelist

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The bestselling author of UFO In Her Eyes (the title of which inspired the Ladies Who Impress event name) and A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, which was nominated for the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction, also made an appearance. This multi-talented lady has penned screenplays, poetry and fiction and is known for the deep emphasis on cultural awareness and alienation in her feature films, which she directs and produces. Xiaolu studied at the Beijing Film Academy and earned a Masters from London’s National Film School. She was named one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists this year.

Photography courtesy of Jana Bakunina, Harlen Leonard, Marése O’Sullivan, Xiaolu GuoKatherine Grainger and Rubies in the Rubble.

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What I See Meets…Oxford Street

Yesterday, the What I See team took to Oxford Street to find out what women see when they look in the mirror.

We really enjoyed meeting the lovely ladies who stopped to chat to us. Many joked about their appearance, some liked theirs, but all of them were honest.

What struck me most was seeing people take in what our sign said and then mouth the question back to themselves with a look of complexity.

Here’s a selection of the reflections we had:

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