'Recording Britain': nostalgia, national identity and the sense of place
The ‘Recording Britain’ collection of watercolours and drawings gives a fascinating account of the country in the early years of the Second World War when lives, landscapes and precious buildings were under threat, not only from bombs but also from the effects of ‘progress’ and development. Gill Saunders, curator of the ‘Recording Britain’ collection at the V&A, will discuss the origins and aims of this unique documentary project as illustrated by the contributions of artists such as John, Piper, Kenneth Rowntree and Barbara Jones, and will also introduce examples of postwar art which have explored similar concerns.
About the Speaker
Gill Saunders is Senior Curator in the Word & Image Department of the Victoria & Albert Museum, specialising in 20th-century and contemporary prints and drawings. Her publications include Picturing Plants: an analytical history of botanical illustration (1995, Zwemmer/V&A), Prints Now: Directions and Definitions (V&A, 2006; with Rosie Miles), Recording Britain (V&A, 2011), a series of essays on 20th-century and contemporary representations of the English landscape, which accompanied a V&A touring exhibition. She was a selector for the inaugural International Print Biennale in Newcastle in 2009. She co-curated Walls Are Talking (2010), an exhibition of wallpapers by contemporary artists, at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, and Surface Noise, (2011) a show of innovative contemporary printmaking at the Jerwood Space, London. Her recent projects have included In Black and White: prints from Africa and the Diaspora (with Zoe Whitley, V&A, 2013) and the exhibition Facing History: Contemporary Portraiture (2015-16). She is the co-editor (with Malcolm Yorke) of Bawden, Ravilious and the Artists of Great Bardfield (V&A, 2015) to which she contributed chapters on Kenneth Rowntree and Michael Rothenstein. She writes, lectures and broadcasts regularly on 20th-century and contemporary art.
About the Painting (above)
Kenneth Rowntree: Grainfoot Farm, Derwentdale, Derbyshire, 1940. Watercolour. Given by the Pilgrim Trust. Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum
Menu for Supper
Lancashire hotpot with crusty bread and pickled red cabbage or mushroom and stilton pasta (v)
Chocolate fudge cake or fresh fruit salad
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