In 1946 the exhibition, Britain Can Make It, was held at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. The exhibition reflected a desire to reaffirm Britain’s global position in design and manufacturing after World War Two.
The symposium “Internationalising Design History: Facing the World Differently. Seventy years on from the Britain Can Make It Exhibition” on Friday 7 October 2016 examines this desire in the context of colonial legacies and the parallel ambitions of its former allies and enemies to capitalise on the potential of design to make a difference.
How could Britain make it as the world realigned and reconfigured politically, economically and culturally? What were the implications of its imperial models of design practice, education, exhibition and professional organisation? And what of now and the future: can Britain still make a distinctive and ethical contribution? These are some of the questions that will be discussed.
09.50 Introduction: Professor Cheryl Buckley
10.00 Keynote: ‘Britain Couldn’t Make It – From Empire To Island, The Collapse Of British Industry’, Professor Jonathan Woodham and Dr Paddy Maguire,
(Chaired by Professor Catherine Moriarty)
Beyond Britain Can Make It: Adaptation and Interpretation
(Chaired by Dr Harriet Atkinson)
11.30 Dr Eleanor Herring, ‘BCMI and Government-Sponsored Design Today’?
11.55 Mary Ann Bolger, ‘Ireland Can Make It?’
12.20 Dr Paddy O’Shea, ‘Business by Air: The BOAC’
Design and Anxiety? New Readings of Britain Can Make It
(Chaired by Elli Michaela Young)
13.50 Liz Tregenza, ‘Clean, Uncluttered and in Good Taste?’
14.15 Kevin Guyan, ‘Locating Masculinities at Britain Can Make It, Seventy Years On’
14.40 Dr Christine Atha, ‘Class Anxieties at the Britain Can Make It Exhibition: The Uses of (Design) Literacy* (*with apologies to Richard Hoggart)
Re-claiming, Re-imagining and Re-presenting: International Scopes and National Preoccupations in Design
(Chaired by Zeina Maasri)
15.45 Professor Lou Taylor, ‘Paris v London: Summer 1944 – Summer 1947: the Struggle for Domination of Couture, Fashion Textiles and Ready to Wear in the Aftermath of World War 2’
16.10 Dr Rikke Jacobsen, ‘Britain Can Make It and the Danish Design and Cabinetmakers’ exhibitions’
16.35 Dr Yasuko Suga, ‘Adopting the Language of Britain Can Make It: Industrial Display at Kobe Fair, 1950’
17.10 Final remarks: CB, HA, ZM, EMY