Something you should see… History is Now

If you have missed the last 70 years of Britain’s cultural and economic history, this exhibition should bring you up to date. Taking a post-world war two exhibition from the V&A as its springboard, the Hayward’s spring show examines the cultural history of the UK through the work of seven artists.

Britain Can Make It was held in the November of 1946 at the V&A and was organised by the government to display consumer goods that would kickstart the economy of post-war Britain. Whilst the Hayward doesn’t make such claims, it has positioned itself as a pre-2015 election recap of how we have found ourselves in this situation: post-recession, post-referendum and post-riot, and taking a politically charged standpoint ponders, is this a tipping point for political change in Britain?

Tony Crag, Britain Seen from the North, 1981

Tony Crag, Britain Seen from the North, 1981

The seven artists involved are John Akomfrah, Simon Fujiwara, Roger Hiorns, Hannah Starkey, Richard Wentworth and Jane and Louise Wilson, all of which curate sections of the exhibition, looking at particular periods of cultural history. Issues examined include the Cold War, post-Thatcherite society, feminism, BSE and celebrity culture, all of which offer a radical new way of thinking about how we got to where we are today. The exhibition brings together over 250 objects including art, documentation, everyday artefacts, newspapers and costumes to interpret key cultural moments identified by today’s practising artists.

If the 1946 exhibition was distinguished by a giant egg symbolising the birth of the egg cup and rebirth of British design and innovation, the decommissioned Bloodhound missile currently clinging to the exterior of the Hayward gallery doesn’t seem quite as hopeful. Thought-provoking stuff. (Words: Laura Thornley)

At the Hayward Gallery until 26th April.  For more info visit: www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/history-is-now-7-artists-take-88866

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