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Photography by Stefano Galli

Louis Vuitton Summer Academy - The Round Up

The super brand's Young Arts Project concludes its first summer academy and Dazed checks out the creative results

Last Friday, the Louis Vuitton Young Arts Project at London’s Royal Academy drew to a close, pulling together a week of collaboration between 30 young people, industry professionals, actors and the programme’s director and artist, Jessica Voorsanger. “It's gone brilliantly, brilliantly!” Jessica says, reaching her hand towards a wooden bench in one of the Royal Academy’s theatres as the finishing touches are applied to actor Amanda Root, today posing as former RA artist, Thomas Ganisborough. “The whole week has just been great - the trips, were amazing, the speakers have been phenomenal and all of the students are just fantastic and completely unafraid to get involved. It's been a great experience.”

Over the last five days, 30 young people aged 13-25 chosen by the youth wings of London’s biggest cultural institutions (Hayward Gallery, the South London Gallery, Tate Britain and the Whitechapel Gallery at the Royal Academy), have been working in teams to reimagine six self-portraits by Andy Warhol, Louise Bourgois, and Picasso amongst others.
“Each of the teams has researched their subjects heavily with the help of visiting experts this week, including Oscar winning costume designer Ruth Myers, arts critic Clive Rose,” says Jessica. They've also been learning about professions in the arts as well as different ways approaching things like characterisation and costume designs... So they've been looking at these photos from all angles in terms of lighting, the pose, and then, as they are all assisting me in project I'm here to make that they're all coherent within the six images and that I'm happy.”

As the first of what the Royal Academy hopes to be many, the Louis Vuitton sponsored academy launched in May under the auspices of London Mayor, Boris Johnson, who attended the opening event. However, what the project has achieved is a lessening of the mystification surrounding the artistic process, as well enabling the young people involved to empower themselves, and gear up for a career in any profession they chose – not just the arts. “In September I'm actually off to study Geography at Cambridge University,” explains 19-year-old student Takashi, who earlier helped transform Amanda Root into Thomas Gainsborough. “But it’s really inspired me to stay involved in the arts world and not let my that interest die. And there have been some really funny moments, too. Yesterday we tried to do a piece of intervention art outside the Louis Vuitton shop, where thirty of us formed a queue outside, and where other customers began to trail back from! Two American were ladies were like, "Oh my god! It's a sad state". It’s been a real pleasure to be involved in from start to finish.”

Read more about the Louis Vuitton Young Arts Project on and in November’s issue of the magazine.