Thursday 5 November 2009

Representing Rurality

A one-day conference arising from this project, entitled Representing Rurality: Culture & the Countryside in the Twentieth Century, was held at the Museum of English Rural Life on November 4th 2009. It was attended by 22 museum professionals and 27 academics and research students drawn from around the country (+ one delegate from Belgium).

The programme:
The Collecting 20thc Rural Culture Project
Dr Roy Brigden, Keeper, Museum of English Rural Life

Collecting Twentieth Century Landscape
Professor David Matless, Professor of Cultural Geography, University of Nottingham

Treasuring Things of the Least: Village Museums in England in the 1920s and 1930s
Bridget Yates, Research student, University of Gloucestershire

Printing for victory: Abram Games and Grow your own food
Paul Stiff, Reader, Dept of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading

Little Red Tractors
Dr Clare Griffiths, Senior Lecturer in History, University of Sheffield

Running Wild and Ridden: Observation and re-presentation of native ponies and their wild habitats in the work of Allen W.Seaby (1867-1953)
Jenny Kendrick, Research student, children’s literature, Roehampton University, London

England itself: The Inn and the Interwar Countryside
Dr Stella Moss, St John’s College, University of Oxford

An alternative view: The South Downs in the mid-twentieth century as seen on aerial photographs
Edward Carpenter, English Heritage

Short insights into a variety of cultures of the countryside in East Anglia
Dr Veronica Sekules, Head of Education & Research, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia.

A discussion at the end was led by a panel comprising Professor John Sheail, Dr Paul Brassley and chaired by Professor Alun Howkins.

Given that much of the project to date has been looking at the twentieth century countryside from within the context of an urban society, one of the lines of discussion that recurred during the day was whether there was in rural areas something that could still be identified as an indigenous culture - with a sense of its own difference and separateness but otherwise largely hidden from view to outsiders – which this project should seek out and record.

There was also some debate about how artefact collections within rural and social history museums generally could be promoted more widely as a research resource amongst the academic community. Proposals were suggested for following this up through a session at the international conference Rural History 2010 to be held in Brighton.

1 comment:

Stephen Sheppard said...

Roy, interesting comments from the conference. In answer to the question "whether there was in rural areas something that could still be identified as an indigenous culture" - "Yorkshire Critters" should in my opinion be acknowledged as an important rural arts and crafts movement in Yorkshire during the mid to late 20th Century - Although I do declare an interest in this subject.