Britain Can Make It

Photograph of a toy diver from Britain Can Make It
The Visual Arts Data Service is keeping me happy in-between times. It’s such a nice place to surf. Image after cracking image, taking you through seminal exhibitions like Britain Can Make It, past the London College of Fashion online archive and into the filing cabinets of the Design Council. I like it because it has lots of great pictures of historical designs. Some information accompanies the images (often not quite enough) but it’s really about looking at nice things.

The image here is the ‘Working Model Diver’ by Dixon Plastics of Northampton and was shown in the Children’s Section of the Britain Can Make It exhibition of 1946. The many images from the exhibition on VADS include everything from installation shots to shots of individual items like egg cups and toasters.

What a great image this is, photographed like a piece of sculpture. The bizarre photographic face inside the helmet just adds a surreal icing.

Held in 1946 at the V&A;, Britain Can Make It was a huge undertaking, extending to about half the museum footprint. On display were 5000 of the latest Council of Industrial Design approved products, intended for export rather than the home market. And the public were hungry for the positivist message relayed by this excess of commercialism. 1, 432, 369 visitors passed through the exhibition between September and November 1946.

Never let it be said that blockbuster exhibitions are a new thing.

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