Christopher Kane’s message of joy unveiled on V&A Dundee


24th August 2020

A large-scale installation by Scottish fashion designer Christopher Kane has been installed on the façade of V&A Dundee, spreading a message of hope to the people of Dundee.

Be open to the Joy you deserve is part of a new free exhibition Now Accepting Contactless: Design in a Global Pandemic opening on Thursday 27 August, the same day the museum reopens after the coronavirus lockdown. It will be seen by thousands of people driving into Dundee every day, sharing a message of joy and empowerment after the recent crisis.

Kane’s artwork was created for Dazed’s #AloneTogether campaign in April 2020 to support Barts Charity’s emergency COVID-19 appeal. 33 artists and designers were invited to create artworks that inspire and imagine the possibility of new worlds, explore humanity in the present climate, and demonstrate the power of art as a medium for political message.

Now Accepting Contactless brings together objects revealing the many ways designers have used their skills in the crisis, from medical illustrations that helped visualise the virus to DIY hacks that encourage essential physical distancing to keep people safe.

Christopher and Tammy Kane said: “As designers we know that the things we surround ourselves with have a significant impact on our lives. As people we believe that positivity becomes a state of mind with daily reinforcements.

“In these unprecedented times, Be open to the Joy you deserve takes on an even deeper meaning as a talisman of hope and good karma, as we navigate 2020 and manifest a future with limitless opportunities for More Joy. We hope this mantra will be a positive affirmation to the people of Dundee, and serve as a reminder to be open to the feeling of joy even in these challenging times.”

Kirsty Hassard, V&A Dundee Curator, said: “Christopher Kane’s message of joy at V&A Dundee is for everyone as we adapt to life during a global pandemic. It forms part of our free exhibition, Now Accepting Contactless: Design in a Global Pandemic, demonstrating the incredible power of ingenuity as society responds to a global problem.

“Designers and communities have adapted to the unprecedented challenges of this year, creating innovative solutions to enhance our resilience in the world of medical care, adapting public spaces, highlighting social inequalities, and protecting the wellbeing of individuals during lockdown.”

Community collaboration has been an important force for support during the pandemic. Scrub Hub is a grassroots movement for anyone with sewing skills to provides scrubs for the NHS using downloadable patterns. Started by a group of neighbours in Hackney Wick, there are now several regional Scrub Hubs.

The Scrub Hub at the University of Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design brought together volunteers and students to make bags, filling them with kits of pre-cut fabric and patterns, and distributing them to 600 sewing volunteers in the community. 1,000 sets of scrubs were made with the unique Tayside Teal fabric from local fabric manufacturer Halley Stevensons.

Professor Anita Taylor, Dean of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, said: “It is terrific to see V&A Dundee celebrate the phenomenal contribution of artists and designers to the many challenges the global pandemic has presented with such immediacy.

“Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design worked together with NHS Tayside and local manufacturer Halley Stevensons to quickly devise a way to meet the urgent need for 5,000 sets of scrubs for frontline health workers. The DJCAD ScrubHub formed one of two strands of production, and facilitated the making of 1,000 sets of scrubs to industry standards by the local community and, along with our industry partners, met this critical demand within a matter of weeks.’’

The exhibition also features Alyssa Eckhart and Dan Higgins’ visualisation of COVID-19 which gave the virus an identity that was then translated globally. Indian artist B Gowtham designed the COVID-19 spiky blob-inspired helmet to help police in Chennai, India, communicate the urgency of the threat to the public, demonstrating the power of design.

Exploring the lighter side of life during lockdown, the exhibition includes a bespoke Quarantine Bread Baking Barbie created by Tonya Ruiz as part of her Quarantine Barbie #BarbieGetsReal series on her Instagram account @GrandmaGetsReal. The kit includes 'Everything she needs to bake banana and sourdough bread’ reflecting the increased interest in home baking during lockdown. Ruiz creates the uniquely packaged dolls from Barbies and minis she has collected over the years.

Some designs featured in the exhibition are in use throughout the museum, adapting the building to be safe and welcoming for visitors and staff. Door handles across the museum have been adapted using 3D printed design solutions by Belgian company Materialise, created during the pandemic so doors can be opened with an arm, rather than by hand.

All visitor bathrooms feature Wash Your Lyrics posters behind each sink to encourage thorough handwashing in a gentle and fun way. The website was created to generate hand washing infographics based on popular song lyrics. The museum has created ten posters, each featuring a different song selected by V&A Dundee staff.

A soundscape will play throughout the museum, including those created by a group of London-based designers and artists. The British Earways project simply asks: how does what we listen to define who we are? The audio pieces ask us to consider how the sounds we listen to shape the world around us.

The pandemic has also exposed deep-rooted inequalities across society. The design community has sought to advocate for disproportionately affected groups such as BAME key workers, people who are homeless, and people experiencing domestic violence. Many initiatives have, however, fallen short and the exhibition features several works which explore how design has addressed these issues.

The exhibition shows how this can be a moment for positive change, with design helping us to imagine a different world after the pandemic, a world that is more connected, sustainable, and equitable than before.

Now Accepting Contactless is displayed inside and outside V&A Dundee, centred on the Michelin Design Gallery, a free exhibition and project space in the upper floor of the museum, from 27 August 2020. The exhibition has been curated by V&A Dundee with the museum’s Young People’s Collective.

All visitors to V&A Dundee need to book a free, timed entry ticket in advance at 

V&A Dundee

V&A at Dundee will be an international centre of design for Scotland. It will celebrate Scotland's historic importance in design and host major exhibitions of outstanding design, helping people understand their own and others' cultural heritage.

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