This Knowledge Exchange project looks at the 1911 Festival of Empire to develop understanding of Britain’s imperial past, what happened and what role the arts played in this, and what impact this had on the lives and lands of colonised peoples back then and the lasting legacy of this today. UAL Knowledge Exchange impact funding enabled project lead, Lucy Panesar, to complete the following activities as part of the first phase of the project between March and May 2021.
Funding enabled Lucy to collaborate with LCC Photojournalism and Documentary Photography student Lydia Wilks to edit the 1911 Festival of Empire Wikipedia page, adding context, more details of the festival exhibits and critical appraisal. Details of the edit can be found on the LCC Decolonising Wikipedia Network examples page.
Funding was also used to support Crystal Palace Museum volunteer David Cardew to start digitally revisualising the 1911 Festival of Empire from archival materials, and share his work and skills at a workshop on 10 May attended by people from UAL and local community organisations. The work that David started can be seen in Google SketchUp 3D Warehouse.
The remaining funds were used by Lucy to host a Project Roundtable event on 19 May with guest speakers exchanging knowledge of the 1911 Festival of Empire and perspectives on what significance this event has today. The event was moderated by Rahul Patel, UAL Associate Lecturer, Co-curator of Decolonising the Arts Curriculum zines and Co-leader of Decolonising Narratives reading group, and started with a presentation by Lucy Panesar and Lydia Wilks, after which the following six guest speakers were invited to offer insights and perspectives:
- Richard Watkins, Crystal Palace Museum trustee and tour guide on what we know and don’t know about the 1911 Festival of Empire from the Museum’s perspective
- Jane Collins, Professor of Theatre and Performance at Wimbledon College of Arts on Staging the Empire: scale and the performance of power.
- Oli Marshall, Creative Lead at Crystal Palace Bowl on the 1911 Festival of Empire Pageant and the relevance of past events in the reopening of the concert bowl
- Dr Dan Byrne-Smith, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art Theory at Chelsea College of Art on the ruins of Crystal Palace Park, spectacles of modernity and museums
- Dr Nicky Ryan, Dean of Design at London College of Communication on the role of the community in the development of Crystal Palace Park
- Wendy Cummins, Director of Radiate Festival on the Crystal Palace festivals, communities, and the Windrush generation.
A video recording on the event can be seen on YouTube here.