By all accounts, ‘the Edwardian’ is a difficult historical period to define. Sandwiched between two momentous historical eras, the Edwardian years seem to lack a coherent identity of their own.
Useful Cinema begins on the perfect point, with the observation that films today ‘appear everywhere’, from ‘iPhone to Imax, from blog inserts to Jumbotrons’, so ‘becoming integral to our experience of institutional and everyday life’.
As Jan Rüger suggested in his 2011 review article ‘Revisiting the Anglo-German antagonism’, since 2000 almost every aspect of the history of Anglo-German relations has been reassessed and re-examined as a story not of increasing and inevitable antagonism, but of a much more complex process.
‘The Sitwells belong to the history of publicity rather than of poetry’, famously pronounced F. R. Leavis in New Bearings in English Poetry (1932).
I cannot help a passing allusion to the lack of pictorial records of this war – records made by artists of experience, who actually witness the scenes they portray.
The dissemination of cultural improvement was written into the ethos of the BBC under John Reith, the first director-general from 1927. Until 1945 the BBC broadcast a single national service and therefore constructed programming that attempted to offer a culturally unified ‘voice of the nation’.
Somewhat late in the day, Tate Britain has got around to an exhibition about the British Empire and its legacies.
In Room 145 of the Ceramics Galleries of the Victoria & Albert Museum, at the top of case 50, you can see an ‘architectural fragment’, which, according to its label, ‘once ornamented a palace in Yuanmingyuan or “garden of perfect clarity”’.
Some 70 years after the British left India it is timely to look back at how the kings and queens of the United Kingdom came to amass one of the largest private collections of South Asian art in the world. Two conjoined exhibitions currently showing at the Queen’s Gallery do just that.
In 1979 Pete Wrong of the art collective and Punk band Crass was being interviewed by New Society about his graffiti operation on the London Underground: ‘We don’t just rip the posters down or spray them. We use stencils, neatly, to qualify them.