Making VanGoYourself work for your event
13 | 07 | 2015
It’s still Monday. Never mind. Fun might seem as distant a memory as a Greek getting a ten-pint round in at the moment, but I thought I’d write about something most people might not know about for today’s blog: namely a VanGoYourself event, which you might even be able to witness and which, as I hinted in my previous post, is as cool as a shark in a swimming pool when it’s done correctly.
VanGoYourself, when it was first pondered more than a year ago, got the green light partly because of the energy it brings: sociability and playfulness are at its core, making it a good craic as part of a (shudder) team bonding session, festival, make-and-play session for kids, wedding, barmitzvah or…I won’t go on. For galleries and museums, it’s an excellent chance to showcase the works they hold. We sometimes suggest that collections pick a masterpiece that they think their beloved audience would particularly enjoy recreating. Equally, a lot of the research from our teammates at Europeana shows the value of opening up treasures from collections that people might not normally get to see, as many venues have become famous on the strength of two or three masterpieces, perhaps to the detriment of more of their artworks earning their spot in the sun and the greater learning and inspiration that entails.
I’m in danger of veering off on another tangent here - more on opening up collections in another post, I suspect - but the point is that the paintings need to be relatively simple to recreate and, ideally, portray between one and four people, as any more sitters can make things tricky unless there’s a large group who all want to pose together. Get in touch with us if you'd like advice on this. Like a night out with Prince Harry and Joey Barton, costumes and props also play their part, and that’s a particularly creative treat for the staff at venues who decide to hold a VGY event. When the Chippenham Museum in Wiltshire put one on, they chose artworks that contained items children could create and wear, such as jewellery and head dresses – good ol’ King Henry, A Young Prince and Two Women from Naples (the Italian version of Two Fat Ladies, junked after the pilot because it just wasn’t as interesting) provided the artworks.
Brilliantly, the organisers printed the chosen paintings on large sheets of paper and hung them about the room, then set up “making stations” in front of them, adorned with materials and cloth for the little cherubs to do their worst with. Having publicised it on Facebook, Twitter, local radio and around the town, the day turned out to be a real success, which was a joy to hear about and bodes well for other museums who might wish to try it in the future. There’s even a Storify of all the tweets about it here.
It doesn’t take the glamour of Wiltshire to make this work, though. Luxembourg’s Cercle Cité – surely named after a biscuit – held one to celebrate the country’s National Museums Day, and someone promptly turned up to this mass after-work social event with a rubber chicken. It’s not clear whether they deployed it before or after they’d had one of the VanGoYourself cocktails, but seeing as the drinks were based around Vincent Van Gogh’s pleasingly potent poison of choice, absinthe, it’s a good bet there was a bit of fowl play by the end of the evening.
The other example I should mention while I’m at it, although I’m wary that it’s the start of the week and my waffle can only push your patience so far, was one we helped put on at the (inhale now) Stadtmuseum Simeonstift Trier in Germany, when a VanGoYourself expert met up with organisers to decide what paintings they should poke people into sending up. This was part of the 8th Museum Night held by four cultural spots in the Trier, and was at least partly responsible for this stirring recreation of a 19th century prison scene. There were articles in the local paper, competitions to win a canvas with the best recreation and all sorts.
Basically, if you’re a collection who’d like to host this sort of fun event or someone who’d like to see this happen at your local museum or gallery, get in touch. And if you’d like us to bring the creative spark to your company or event, we’d leap for joy if you’d consider one of the rewards on the right.
Monday down, seven days to go, get involved if you can - the more the merrier.
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