Research blog – making connections: CircPosted: April 5, 2014
Sometimes I wonder about the purpose of having a PhD blog and who, if anyone, is my audience, but I recently received a worthwhile email from another researcher in a related area, based at the University of Brighton, who had come across my blog and sent me some interesting links.
Joanna Wedell is researching the Circulation Department of the Victoria & Albert Museum, known as Circ, and its post-war activity circulating items from the museum’s collection, along with exhibitions and art demonstration sets, to institutions in regions across the UK, including secondary schools, art colleges and museums. I had read about the V&A’s circulation department in issues of the Society for Education through Art’s journal, Athene, dating back to the early-1940s when they were calling for a nationwide scheme to get artworks into schools and discussing the schemes which already existed. However, Joanna informed me that the V&A phased out shows for secondary schools post-war, after an initial government plan to extend the scheme was dropped, although the Keeper of Circulation from 1947-60, Peter Floud, was particularly interested in children’s art education.
Something of particular interest was a video clip Joanna sent me showing the ceramicist Emmanuel Cooper talking about being influenced by seeing ceramics whilst he was at school (in a Circ exhibition): www.vam.ac.uk/content/videos/e/video-emmanuel-cooper-on-william-newland. I was intruiged to hear Derbyshire mentioned as Derbyshire was also a council which made extensive use of Pictures for Schools and still has a county art collection for loan to schools.
Another article related to Essex artist Edward Bawden, known as being a pioneer of printing methods such as linocut and creating distinctive images of Britain’s landscapes, both rural and urban. In addition to being represented in Circ, Bawden was a regular contributor to Pictures for Schools. A former war artist, Bawden’s many public and private commissioned ranged from packaging and advertising designs to murals for public places such as the Festival of Britain and Cunard liners.