Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.520788
Title: Propaganda, Pride and Prejudice : Revisiting the Empire Marketing Board Posters at Manchester City Galleries
Author: Horton, Melanie
Awarding Body: The Manchester Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2010
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Abstract:
What happens when an art museum decides to investigate the 'legacies of empire' through an explicitly colonial collection? And what happens when the 'outsider' asked to do this research holds an investigative mirror up to the museum's own history and cultural practices? This thesis presents findings from practice-led collaborative research into Manchester City Galleries' (MCG) collection of Empire Marketing Board (EMB) posters. The Empire Marketing Board (1926-33) was an early experiment in British peacetime governmental propaganda. 222 of its artist-designed posters were collected by Manchester's City Art Gallery in the 1930s as examples of art's benefit to industry but have remained little known or used since. This study of them used an innovative methodology, based on a rich mix of anthropology, museological theory, visual analysis, historical investigation and community consultation, to revisit their history, ascribe new meaning to their significance and examine their interpretive potential from a postcolonial perspective. The posters' contextual history was situated in theoretical terms amongst what Tony Bennett (1995a) has described as an 'exhibitionary complex', however, the meanings that they generated when re-presented through this research, suggested that this context still influences understandings of them. This thesis describes a series of new relationships developed between the EMB poster collection, MCG and its public today. It presents a broadly expressive understanding of the posters in their current, postcolonial context, revealing rich insights into their meaning-making potential. Yet, it also highlights a contradiction that staff working in art museums face when attempting to approach colonial histories from a postcolonial perspective. It brings attention to the restrictive tensions that condition understandings of material culture representing colonial 'self' identity and reveals 'invisible' aspects of institutional culture and identity that impeded engagement with this research. Overall, this thesis concludes that the 'legacies of empire' encountered in this research actually lay within 'ourselves', demonstrated through articulations and individual negotiations of colonial traces within an art museum context. What happens when an art museum decides to investigate the 'legacies of empire' through an explicitly colonial collection? And what happens when the 'outsider' asked to do this research holds an investigative mirror up to the museum's own history and cultural practices? This thesis presents findings from practice-led collaborative research into Manchester City Galleries' (MCG) collection of Empire Marketing Board (EMB) posters. The Empire Marketing Board (1926-33) was an early experiment in British peacetime governmental propaganda. 222 of its artist-designed posters were collected by Manchester's City Art Gallery in the 1930s as examples of art's benefit to industry but have remained little known or used since. This study of them used an innovative methodology, based on a rich mix of anthropology, museological theory, visual analysis, historical investigation and community consultation, to revisit their history, ascribe new meaning to their significance and examine their interpretive potential from a postcolonial perspective. The posters' contextual history was situated in theoretical terms amongst what Tony Bennett (1995a) has described as an 'exhibitionary complex', however, the meanings that they generated when re-presented through this research, suggested that this context still influences understandings of them. This thesis describes a series of new relationships developed between the EMB poster collection, MCG and its public today. It presents a broadly expressive understanding of the posters in their current, postcolonial context, revealing rich insights into their meaning-making potential. Yet, it also highlights a contradiction that staff working in art museums face when attempting to approach colonial histories from a postcolonial perspective. It brings attention to the restrictive tensions that condition understandings of material culture representing colonial 'self' identity and reveals 'invisible' aspects of institutional culture and identity that impeded engagement with this research. Overall, this thesis concludes that the 'legacies of empire' encountered in this research actually lay within 'ourselves', demonstrated through articulations and individual negotiations of colonial traces within an art museum context.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.520788  DOI: Not available
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