English Anxieties

Brennan, Tim (2009) English Anxieties. [Show/Exhibition]

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Abstract

Brennan was commissioned to explore the Mass Observation archive at the University of Sussex. The archive is the material evidence of the work first carried out by The Mass Observation Unit from 1936 onwards that formed an anthropology of everyday life in the United Kingdom.

The research period of the project was 9 months and formed the basis of an Honorary Fellowship at UWN (where Brennan presented an additional research seminar and lecture to staff and students).

The resulting suite of works combine a publication, photography, vinyl drawings, the curating of original archival material and the re-working of a fascinating account by British explorer and archaeologist T.C. Lethbridge of a concealed enemy presence in Cambridgeshire in 1940. Taking descriptions and drawings made by Lethbridge as a starting point, Brennan represents this data in the form of large, colourful maps inspired by the Isotype graphical system (Otto Neurath) developed in the 1930s.

The commission exists as the first attempt by a visual artist to articulate the MO archive, which, until Brennan’s involvement had been focused upon by historians and literary figures only. The commission enabled a clear investigation into the material (plastic/visual) qualities of the archive and the forensic behaviours of researchers. In this respect it offers a valuable insight for all those involved in analysing the archive and the ways in which we conserve and develop our understanding of history.

The work builds upon the strand in Brennan’s oeuvre concerned with artists working with and through archives. Two of his previous key works in this mode were with The National Maritime Museum (2002) and British Museum (2003)

Item Type: Show/Exhibition
Subjects: Fine Art > Exhibition Catalogues
Divisions: Creative and Cultural Practices Beacon > Art and Design Workstream
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Tim Brennan
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2011 14:47
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2017 18:28
URI: http://sure.sunderland.ac.uk/id/eprint/1274

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