Anna Strivens, Silver Arts Award achiever

Anna Strivens, 16, completed her Silver Arts Award at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

Anna Strivens, Silver Arts Award achiever

What level of Arts Award have you done so far?

I did the Bronze and Silver Arts Awards.

What's been the best thing about your Arts Award?

I think the best thing was experimenting with the multiple different art forms I hadn't known about or tried before, and having the chance to develop skills that already existed. The Arts Award was an incentive to push myself out of my comfort zone and try new things, but also to work hard at what I was already good at, and to try and improve. Seeing the difference between my work when I started and when I finished was incredible.

What art forms you did use for your Award?

My Silver Arts Award was largely based around sewing and graphic art. Firstly, I set myself a goal to design a dress, then create a pattern and construct it. I have always wanted to do this, so I was very excited to finally get the opportunity. The process combined drawing and multiple forms of textile art.

The second part of my Award was focused on portraiture. I have always been a bit of a nut for pencils. I have taken a lot of delight in scribbling graphite over a piece of paper since I was very little, but never really applied it as anything more than a hobby. I experimented with portrait drawing and Manga art

What events did you attend?

I attended a fashion design workshop at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, run by curator and former designer Dennis Nothdruft. He was teaching how to draw a croquis, an elongated representation of the human body used by designers. He showed us how to draw the body and how to design the clothes on it. It was very interesting to watch someone who had been in the fashion business go through the motions.


  • A drawing by Anna Strivens

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

One artist I found particularly inspirational whilst designing was Vivienne Westwood. I did a biography of her for my Bronze Arts Award, and saw some of the clothes she made in the V&A during a review for my Silver. Her outrageous, bold style was a lot of fun to look at and gave me several ideas for designs of my own. I also visited the Liberty Museum.

Being a well-established fashion house, there were a lot of clothes to look at but also a lot of diversity between each piece. The Asian twist to the designing style added an intriguing flare.

How did you shared your arts skills or lead your own projects?

I shared my arts skills by organising a small craft fair at a local venue with a few other Arts Award participants. I set up a stall to display my drawings, and drew portraits for anyone who wanted to sit. The organising itself required a lot of leading, as it required a lot of talking with the owners of the place and discussing with my peers on the method and display. I had to take a lot of initiative in the creation of my dress, also, in the research of fabrics and styles for the design.

What did you find inspiring?

What I found inspiring was the support of fellow artists and the amount everyone had improved when we were finished. Those who had done the Arts Award before were more than happy to assist and advise, and the sense of cooperation and community with the others doing the Silver Award with me was fantastic. Witnessing the sheer quality of everyone's work at the end was amazing.

What was challenging?

The amount of work to be done was a struggle. The Arts Award did take over my life for a time in a desperate attempt to finish the various sections on time. Everything required a lot of thought and I wasn't always sure how to write this or display information on that. Time management was a bit of an issue when I wanted to think everything through carefully.

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

I have continued with my portrait drawing and sewing, and have in fact found an affinity with costume design. I think if I hadn't done my Arts Award and really pushed myself to work at my artistic abilities I wouldn't have improved anywhere near as quickly as I have, and might not have been as eager to continue as I have been. My work has definitely been benefited by doing the Arts Award, and I also gained a lot of confidence in myself and my leadership abilities. I might not have even considered doing some of the things I'm doing now if it weren't for that.

Sum up your award in 3 words?

Discovery, development, excitement.

  • Image courtesy of Anna Strivens


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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