INTERVIEW. Imogen Clarke about Streets Fans @ The Fan Museum, London

Street Fans is currently on at The Fan Museum in Greenwich, London. For this exhibition, the museum asked several street artists to create fans with the help of the fan maker Sylvain le Guen. The result is the showcase of a fantastic multiplicity of designs, a new eye onto contemporary fan making and the opportunity for engagement with the local community. Street Fans is an incredible project lead by one of the most incredible place I had the chance to work in. Imogen Clarke, curatorial assistant at the museum, tells us more about it:

This exchange happened via emails. 

– Is it is the first time such a project is made; how did the concept idea come up? 

The concept for Street Fans came about when Paris-based street artist Codex Urbanus approached The Fan Museum with the idea. Having been involved in a similar exhibition in Paris at The Musée de l’Éventail (sadly now closed), Codex was keen for a similar project to be realised at The Fan Museum in Greenwich. Street Fans really is a unique liaison between street art and fan making and has brought something vibrant and new to The Fan Museum. It is the first exhibition of its kind to happen here and we are so thrilled with the response it has received so far.

Street Fans @ The Fan Museum, London, September 2017. Credit: Maxime Laprade.

– The project took more than a year of work, what did it involve and what were the challenges?

We worked with 29 international street artists and one fan maker to create 54 contemporary fans for the Street Fans exhibition. Alongside developing the exhibition text, creating a catalogue and designing the exhibition we also launched a crowdfunding campaign through Art Fund’s Art Happens platform. Through Art Happens we raised an amazing £14,000 in 32 days. We can’t thank our funders enough for their support and donations. With their help we have been able to make Street Fans a reality. As you can imagine all of this took lots of planning and as a small curatorial department we were certainly working our socks off.

– If you had to choose one key moment, what would it be?

One of my favourite moments throughout the Street Fans project was working with students from Lewisham Southwark College. It was brilliant to get so many students involved and inspiring to see their creative work. We hosted a brilliant fan design competition as well as a masterclass with fan maker Sylvain Le Guen and the results were fantastic. There are certainly some budding new fan designers out there!

Street Fans @ The Fan Museum, London, September 2017. Credit: Maxime Laprade.

– Prior to the launch, the museum set up ‘partner events’. Could you tell us a little bit more about them? 

We hosted a series of partner events throughout the opening weeks of the Street Fans exhibition. These were aimed at introducing street art and fan making to new audiences. We kicked off with live painting and fan making at the University of Greenwich where artists Butch Attai and Lily Mixe created beautiful murals at the Heritage Gallery (pictures here). We then had an action-packed weekend at Greenwich Market where over 80 people attended fan making workshops and artists Codex Urbanus, Nathan Bowen and Skeleton Cardboard painted murals in the sunshine. Finally, we ended with a brilliant series of events at Lewisham Southwark College. We hosted a fan design competition where children from local primary schools, secondary schools and colleges created their very own Street-Fans-inspired fans (pictures here).

We also held a Street Fans Masterclass run by master fan maker himself Sylvain Le Guen. This was an intimate opportunity for Foundation and Level 3 Art and Fashion students to work directly with Sylvain to design and create their very own Street Fan. The students created truly unique designs and got to see some of Sylvain’s beautiful creations including a fan designed for the recent Cinderella movie. The Masterclass was followed by a Q&A session with Sylvain and Jacob Moss, curator of the exhibition, which was attended by art and fashion students, alumni and The Fan Museum Friends.

Street Fans @ The Fan Museum, London, September 2017. Credit: Maxime Laprade.

– How does such a exhibition project benefit a museum like The Fan Museum?

Street Fans has benefited the museum on many levels. We have certainly seen new visitors stepping into the gallery who have been inspired by the collaboration between street art and fan making. We’ve been able to connect with new audiences at Greenwich Market, University of Greenwich and Lewisham Southwark College and hopefully we have inspired some new budding fan makers. Our first contemporary exhibition since 2011, Street Fans has brought colour and vibrancy to The Fan Museum and we hope it will continue to be enjoyed throughout December.

Thank you Imogen!

Visit The Fan Museum until 31st December to see Street Fans!

To learn more about The Fan Museum.


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