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Title: Exhibiting Welshness : art, politics and national identity in Wales, 1940-1994
Author: Jones, Huw D.
Awarding Body: Swansea University
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2007
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The study aims to analyse the culture of the visual arts in Wales between 1940 and 1994 – a period when the British state took formal responsibility for arts patronage through the Arts Council of Great Britain. Special attention focuses on how exhibitions organised by Welsh representatives of the Arts Council helped define and assert a Welsh sense of national identity, whose interests this served, and what were its wider implications. Following Peter Lord’s idea of an “Aesthetics of Relevance,” the study therefore examines Welsh art in relation to the broader social, political and economic development of the Welsh nation. Using discourse analysis of exhibition files held in the Welsh Arts Council Archive, together with other primary and secondary sources, the study finds that the Welsh Arts Council promoted a British sense of Welshness – conceived first in communal, later in more progressive terms – that served to legitimise and reproduce the British social democratic consensus negotiated between government, capital and labour during the Second World War. At the same time, it marginalised nationalist ideas of Wales. This was achieved not only through the kinds of images shown by the Welsh Arts Council, but also how they were presented to Welsh audiences. In conceptual terms, the Welsh Arts Council can therefore be thought of as a “disciplinary mechanism” which made use of curatorial practices of display to regulate images into discursive formations that permitted, and so naturalised, certain ways of thinking about national identity, while silencing others. In turn, this codification of national culture helped define the social-space of the Welsh nation. On the other hand, audiences often challenged the authorised version of Welsh art through the different knowledges and experiences they brought to a display site. Art is therefore a key discursive space in which consensus on national identity is negotiated and contested.
Supervisor: Gruffydd, Pyrs Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available