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The University of Southampton
Winchester School of Art

Research project: What is Luxury? Exhibition with the V & A

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In 2013 Dr Jonathan Faiers originated and facilitated a new institutional research partnership between Winchester and the Victoria & Albert Museum. This followed on from a series of consultations between Faiers and the then head of research at the V&A; Glenn Adamson concerning the planned V&A exhibition What is Luxury? (25th April – 27th September 2015).

From late 2013 onwards Faiers was invited to become a member of the Luxury Exhibtionary Advisory Board at the V&A, regularly attending meetings with major stakeholders from the V&A and the Crafts Council and external experts from the luxury industries. Faiers’ role in these meetings was to guide and comment on the curatorial vision for the show, its critical and theoretical content and to advise on subsequent dissemination of the show in the form of publications. In addition to these group meetings Faiers regularly met with Wierzba advising on exhibition content, historical and contemporary debates surrounding luxury that could be reflected in the displays, this advisory and mentoring role became increasingly necessary once Wierzba was appointed as co-curator.

To coincide with the opening of the exhibition in 2015 Faiers edited a special issue of Luxury, which included a curatorial essay by Wierzba and a review by WSA member Lyanne Holcombe. This issue served as the only scholarly publishable output from the exhibition and disseminated the show’s content to a wide audience both academic and general. The issue sold out before the show closed. The exhibition received wide acclaim both in the UK and internationally and Faiers was interviewed for German television on the exhibition and Winchester’s work in representing the new field of critical luxury studies.

During the run of the show Roberts and Armitage were invited to attend and participate in a luxury workshop alongside international artists and designers featured in the show. The exhibition culminated in a What is Luxury? conference (18th Sept. 2015) at which Faiers was a keynote speaker on the subject of ‘Exclusive Access’. Both of these public facing museum events benefited directly from the input of Armitage, Faiers and Roberts and the critical research and expertise represented by the Winchester Luxury Research Group and the journal. Since the close of the show there have been a number of meetings Between Armitage, Faiers and Roberts with Bill Sherman, the current head of research at the V&A concerning future research projects between WSA and the V&A, centred around the plans for the new Olympicopolis site in East London and which Armitage and Faiers were invited as V&A partners to contribute to the critical conceptualisation of at a special National Partners Event in September 2015.

Related research groups

Winchester Luxury Research Group
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