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Modernism on Sea

Art and Culture at the British Seaside


Edited By Lara Feigel and Alexandra Harris

Modernism on Sea brings together writing by some of today’s most exciting seaside critics, curators, filmmakers and scholars, and takes the reader on a journey around the coast of Britain to explore the rich artistic and cultural heritage that can be found there, from St Ives to Scarborough. The authors consider avant-garde art, architecture, film, literature and music, from the early twentieth century to the present, setting the arrival of modernism against the background of seaside tradition.
From the cheeky postcards marvelled at by George Orwell to austere modernist buildings such as the De La Warr Pavilion; from the Camden Town Group’s sojourn in Brighton to John Piper’s ‘Nautical Style’; from Paul Nash’s surrealist benches on the promenade in Swanage to the influence of bunting and deckchairs on the Festival of Britain – Modernism on Sea is a sweeping tour de force which pays tribute to the role of the seaside in shaping British modernism.


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Part VIModernism and After


Part VI MODERNISM AND AFTER Alan Powers Alan Powers is Professor of Architecture and Cultural History at the University of Greenwich and Chairman of the Twentieth Century Society. He has published widely on twentieth-century British art, architecture and design, including Britain in the series ‘Modern Architectures in History’ (Reaktion, 2007). The Destructive Element Benjamin Britten and Aldeburgh modernism came to aldeburgh in 1948, with the first annual Festival of Music and the Arts, conceived by the resident composer, Benjamin Britten, and his creative circle. The sea had a lifelong importance for Britten, and the Festival deepened this relationship, drawing a new type of visitor to the small Suffolk town. Aldeburgh is representative of a genre of seaside town favoured by artists. It has in common with St Ives and the smaller ports of the East Neuk of Fife the presence of a small local fishing industry, which provides economically and socially independent ‘characters’ as well as a picturesque paraphernalia of nets and boats. For Britten, this was significant. During his boyhood at Lowestoft, the Britten children found the docks the most interesting part of town, and they listened to the songs sung by the itinerant Scottish herring girls as they worked on the quay gutting the fish. As a resident of the town, he befriended Billy Burrell, one of the fishermen who was photographed by Kurt Hutton for Picture Post in 1950 with Britten and E.M. Forster on board his fishing boat at the time they were working on the...

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