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On My Way to Jorvik: How a boy with a vision became the project designer of Britain’s ground-breaking museum, the original Jorvik Viking Centre Paperback – January 8, 2014
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About the Author
John Sunderland, a dyed-in-the-wool Yorkshireman, was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Britain, in 1950. He was awarded a choral scholarship to Wakefield Cathedral and attended Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield. He studied graphic design, animation and film at Bath Academy of Art and Birmingham Polytechnic after which he began his freelance career in film and animation. From his work with Yorkshire Television, he became the title designer of the hit game show 3*2*1 and created the character ‘Dusty Bin’, the program’s iconic booby prize. From that exposure he landed further animation direction projects and became director and art-director for film projects with Kenny Everett. His career path changed when he presented innovative concept designs to the York Archaeological Trust for their plan to develop a museum based on their five-year rescue-archaeology dig of Viking age remains at Coppergate in York. John became the Project Designer of the original Jorvik Viking Centre in York in 1981. Following the opening of Jorvik in 1984, he, along with other key members of the original JVC team, founded Heritage Projects, York, of which he was the Creative Director. In 1988 he went freelance once again. Between1984 to 2008 he went on to design and build 25 commercially successful, award-winning ground-breaking international museums and cultural heritage centres many of which are still in operation. In the early 90s the media dubbed him ‘the Godfather of the Heritage Industry’. During the same period he completed over 150 international consultancy projects, several of which became full-blown developments. He also produced and directed documentaries associated with his exhibitions. John married Kathy Kirkpatrick in 2006 in New York City. In 2004 and thereafter he became involved with her businesses, Life Café in New York City and Bushwick, Brooklyn (Life Café was featured in the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning Broadway hit RENT). During that time he painted and wrote a collection of short stories and began outlines for several fictional titles and psychic and historic thrillers inspired by his project developments as well as his American and New York City experiences. John and Kathy retired from the Cafe business in 2012. Currently, they live in the foothills of the Sierra Bernia on the Costa Blanca of Spain where he has begun publishing his writings. In between the words he loves to paint and watch over the banana plants.
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Top customer reviews
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I loved this book! John Sunderland is an inspiring, entertaining, and creative storyteller who brings to life his story of how he (and his quirky, talented team) created the Jorvik Viking Center in York, England.
As a young boy, John would sit alone in quiet art galleries as his classmates sat in math class. John would skip class to lose himself in the works of art hanging on the walls, often times mentally melting into the painted landscape in order to escape the less than pleasant realities that he faced as a young boy. His interest in art and his developed imagination helped set the stage for a career as a freelance artist and designer.
As you travel with John through his life, you are allowed entrance into the creative process that gave birth to the first of its kind design for this Heritage Museum. This is where the real gems of John's book are found. When John brings you into his world of thought and shares his personal techniques on how he goes about creating and coming up with ideas, you learn valuable lessons from a great artist. John relied on mind maps and disciplined journaling of his thoughts and ideas. “Drawing is magic and the pencil the magic wand sometimes.” JS
When John was faced with the challenge of creating the exhibit for the Jorvik museum, he knew he wanted the visitors to do more than just visit the museum. He wanted them to “experience” it. The only way to do that was to incorporate as many senses as possible, including the sense of smell. He wanted visitors to be transported to another time; to move through the museum as if moving through the city the way it was 1000 years ago. How John and his team carry out this special process is fascinating. For anyone who values or relies on creativity and imagination for their career or hobby, this book is a must read. His lessons and theories on the creative process come from years of practice, training and real world application.
This book will take you on a wild ride as you meet some of the most unconventional and influential characters that helped to shape museum design at the time. John’s descriptions are engaging and vivid. Being from the states, I began reading knowing very little about the JVC and its history. But I couldn’t help get excited about the project and root for John and his team as his ideas took shape and became a reality.