Britain Can Make It

'Britain Can Make It', colour lithograph poster advertising the exhibition organised by the Council of Industrial  Design, held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, 24 September – 31 October 1946, designed by Ashley Havinden, Great Britain, 1946, CIRC.459-1971. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

'Britain Can Make It', colour lithograph poster advertising the exhibition organised by the Council of Industrial  Design, held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, 24 September – 31 October 1946, designed by Ashley Havinden, Great Britain, 1946, CIRC.459-1971. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Diane Bilbey is currently working on a publication for V&A Publishing that will result in a highly visual exploration and celebration of the then popular, but now largely overlooked, 'Britain Can Make It' exhibition, organised by the Council of Industrial Design and hosted at the V&A from September to December 1946.

The exhibition was a showcase for British design and manufacturing, and was a precursor to the more widely celebrated Festival of Britain in 1951. It ran for just three months, but the BCMI exhibition boasted an incredible 1,432,546 visitors, with an average of 20,000 a day.

The book will be illustrated throughout, with a combination of evocative photographs from the exhibition, and with colour photography of the most noteworthy and visually interesting objects and designs. Where possible, essays will be illustrated with objects from the V&A’s collections.

By taking its structure loosely from the exhibition itself and from the accompanying Design ’46 catalogue, this book will take the reader through an eclectic array of subject areas and consumer products. Most chapters will be in the form of short essays, written by V&A curators and external specialists, as well as by Diane herself as author and general editor.

Intended outcome

A scholarly, yet popular publication celebrating the ‘Britain Can Make It’ exhibition, to be published in September 2016 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the exhibition.

Project Lead: Diane Bilbey, Visiting Research Fellow

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Event - Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience 1950s-1990s

Mon 16 February 2015–Sun 24 May 2015

DISPLAY: This display showcases a variety of photographic responses to black British experience from the 1950s to the 1990s. All of the photographs are from the V&A Collection and were acquired as part of the project Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience 1950s-1990s, a collaboration with Black Cultural Archives funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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