Case Study: Sienna James, Arts Award Activist

I sat down with Sienna James to chat about her experiences with Arts Award.

Case Study: Sienna James, Arts Award Activist

What level(s) of Arts Award you've done

Gold, Silver, Bronze

What art form(s) you took part in

For Gold, I combined creative writing with the art of 1930s illustration and historical interpretation.

What events you went to – include links to any online reviews on Arts Award Voice or elsewhere

I visited lots of different places around the country that offer historical re-enactments. Some of these were famous and large-scale, like Hampton Court Palace for example, where I watched a Shakespearian re-enactment. And some of them were more local, for example a village only a few miles away from where I live put on Tudor days every year. It was fascinating to see not only the array of different time periods but also how historical interpretation differs from one society to the next.

Anything about your arts hero, or artists you worked with, or cultural organisations you visited

I worked with House Stewards at Ickworth House as part of my Work Experience for Gold. Combining their extensive knowledge of history with the arts is something that amazed me – a real eye opener for future careers.

How you shared your arts skills or led your own projects

I created a historical research exhibition for Unit Two of my Gold – this was at Ickworth House where I was already involved with Work Experience and re-enacting. For my exhibit I researched the subject they gave me, decided on all the physical elements of the display, and everything else! The staff at Ickworth were so pleased with the public's response to the display that although it was originally scheduled for a week, it's now up indefinitely – I was delighted.

What was most valuable to you personally?

I think creating my exhibit was something I'll always remember. Although I was very unsure at first, I definitely grew in confidence and would love to be part of curating exhibits for museums in the future.

What was challenging?

For me, as well as being the most enjoyable part of the award, Unit Two was also the most challenging. It was the first time I had led a major project and so organising all the materials and keeping up communication with staff at Ickworth was new to me.

What are you going to do next – and has Arts Award helped you?

Well, Arts Award has already helped me become an Activist and I am thrilled and so excited about this role. In terms of my Gold award, it has been a huge inspiration for future careers combining my love of heritage with my love of the arts.

Who gave you the most help and inspiration?

I was mentored by Lucy Sercombe at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. She supported me throughout, giving me advice, and liaised with Arts Award as my topic of historical interpretation was a first.


Sienna James

Sienna James Voice Team

Formerly Assistant Editor, Sienna now studies History of Art at the University of Cambridge and loves to write about the intersection of politics, history and visual art. Sienna is author of the Creative Education and Instaviews series.

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  • Kheira Bey

    On 20 December 2016, 17:52 Kheira Bey Contributor commented:

    I like that you are interested in the more unique art forms, as historical interpretation is very fashionable [many many period dramas on TV right now salute this] but is still not highly documented. Would love to see some photos!

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