Resource of the Week - Sky Arts Ignition: Memory Palace - Gone and forgotten

An exhibition imagines a world where memory is forbidden

Imagine if reading the memories of others was forbidden, or if, by recording your thoughts, you were committing a crime.

This is the central theme of Sky Arts Ignition: Memory Palace, an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England, based on a dystopian view of the capital in the future created by author Hari Kunzru.

In his vision, the global information infrastructure, which dominates our lives today, has been destroyed by a huge magnetic storm. Books and any means of retaining information are banned by the ruling regime.

Twenty international artists, graphic designers and typographers have interpreted Kunzru's story to create an immersive, multidimensional and somewhat discomfiting experience. For without memory, as the central character in the story (who is being held prisoner) surmises, "civilisation is doomed".

Twenty students aged 16-18 from St Aloysius' College in North London have become involved in the exhibition through the museum's DesignLab programme, which explores ways of engaging students with design and contemporary practitioners. The students, who had already visited the exhibition, created individual illustrations based on one of their own memories. They then worked with Sam Winston, an artist whose work is featured in the exhibition, who offered guidance on how to turn these illustrations into a collaborative piece.

DesignLab is a series of projects that connects schools with museum educators, practising designers and the Vamp;A's collections, giving students the chance to work on projects, engage in professional development and gain new skills and knowledge. It aims to pique young people's curiosity about the designed world around them, how it is made and its impact on society and the environment.

Yenayetul Shahid, a Year 12 (ages 16-17) graphic communication student who took part in the Memory Palace project, says: "The workshop was a great chance to work with Sam Winston - it was the first time I had been to an artist's workplace. It was good to see how different artists go through different processes when they're working.

"As a group, we worked on two big pieces using carbon paper - the first time, as a class, that we have collaborated on a piece. It was great having Sam guide us through it."

The Vamp;A offers many original ideas and schemes of work for art and design and technology lessons. Students are given professional briefs, explore different creative processes and techniques, and have access to the museum's collections to enhance their knowledge of design history.

Sky Arts Ignition: Memory Palace runs until 20 October. For more information on DesignLab, visit Find out about Vamp;A exhibitions and concessionary tickets for students at

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