Systems in the post-war art school : basic design, Groundcourse and Hornsey
Sloan, Catherine Louise
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis makes the first sustained attempt to locate post-war British art school pedagogy in relation to systems-inspired cultural practice after World War II. I explore how in the post-war era in Britain, system, cybernetic and network theories had an instrumental presence in visual arts pedagogy and practice which marked a fundamental shift in the values of cultural production. This was informed both by General System Theory, which had emerged in biology before the war (GST) and its part in the new systemic presence across culture and economy in the wake of the war. I draw out this cultural trend through the examination of student work of the period, pedagogical documents and new interview material with teachers and students. The immediate post-war years form one of the most vital periods of technological development of all time, in which the physical and biological sciences played an ever-more prominent – and integrated - part. The pedagogies of 1945-1970 incorporated a range of systemic and mechanical approaches into creative practice, which had a clear link to contemporaneous technological developments. That mechanisms, networks and systemic approaches were a fundamental aspect of visual arts pedagogies of the period is a phenomenon which has never been analysed and this is the task of this thesis. This was manifested both in the subject matter of classes and courses and in the teaching structures and models that this thesis will examine. These consist of the Basic Design movement, Groundcourse and the Hornsey protest of 1968. The presence of mechanics as process, pedagogy, practice and symbol within British art education demonstrates the evolving importance of technology within culture. With this in mind, each case study within this thesis investigates systems characteristics of British art school pedagogies during the period. The underlying aim is not to create a narrative account of each pedagogical moment, but rather to pursue the material and cultural influences which shaped their development.