For a long time, I’ve wished that Dundee would be hit by something really special. There is a lot of creativity in Dundee but I don’t think the city celebrates it enough – a lot of people (myself included) are not aware of everything that Dundee has to offer and despite this being recognised internationally, I’m not sure that the city itself embraces the creative outlets it provides. I’m not sure about you, but I tend to think that to be creative in Scotland, one has to be in Glasgow or Edinburgh. (Or just relocate to London, but then, why should we?).
So, for a long time I have wished that something with creative clout would come to Dundee to act as a motherboard for all things creative, to pull everything together in one giant fashionable hub and give creative people a sense of being. To begin with I thought that perhaps DC Thomson could franchise a Scottish Vogue, but so far, no Vogue. (Dear Mr Thomson, feel free to investigate. I will happily come on board).
I must admit, I’ve had a few daydreams of this sort. Only recently though, have those daydreams started to come true via the V&A Dundee project.
Last night, I attended a presentation at the University of Abertay, given by the Director of the V&A Dundee project, Philip Long. The event was sponsored by Freedom Hair and DDOne. It was great meeting people from the retail and business industry within Dundee (representatives from Overgate, Walkers, etc) while “oohing” and “ahing” over Kengo Kuma’s architectural model. (Which is now at full size as opposed to the half size model at the voting polls last year). The presentation really brought the project alive; Philip Long is obviously passionate about the project, but he also appears to be very passionate, and excited, about Dundee and the potential the city has. He compared it to the recent opening of the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain and explained the similarities between the two cities; both waterfront cities that have lost industrial trades and which are well placed between larger cities (Glasgow and Edinburgh for Dundee, Madrid and Barcelona for Bilbao). Long also talked about the possibilities of exhibits he would like to see at the V&A Dundee and seemed particularly keen to retain the immense talent coming out of Scotland in a fashion and design sense, mentioning great Scottish design successes such as Jonathan Saunders, Christopher Kane, Louise Gray and Hayley Scanlan.
A Fundraising Committee has been established which has already submitted major funding applications for the project. When asked how confident he was about the project being a success (e.g. going ahead!), Long answered with a definite “very confident”. This should be reassuring to cynics that argue that Dundee has already missed some tremendous opportunities and are skeptical about this being another non-starter. However, having listened to Philip Long talk about the project, I think that 2015 will see the opening of the V&A Dundee. Daydreamers, it’s time to get excited.