• 21 February 2020
  • 1:00 – 2:00 pm
  • Paul Mellon Centre

The bombsite has been forgotten culturally and historically. Although they were ephemeral spaces, paradoxically, their presence persisted, ingrained in the landscape many years after the Second World War ended. Bombsites occupy a difficult place in cultural memory, and as a result, they have been considerably overlooked as rich sites of production in the period after the war.

Building on arguments that attempt to disrupt the idea of the bombsite as an end-point to creativity, I will argue that the bombsite is a productive space through which to explore educational and exhibition histories at the end of the Second World War. Using photographs from a Picture Post article published in 1949 of students from the Sir John Cass Technical Institute making sculptures in a bombsite from the materials of destroyed buildings, this presentation will examine this case study alongside transformations in art school education and narratives of public sculpture, addressing moments of creativity, experimentation and defiance that took place in the bombsite.

Banner image: Raymond Kleboe, Bomb Site Sculpture (artists working with stone from buildings damaged or destroyed in bombing raids), 26 February 1949. Digital image courtesy of Raymond Kleboe / Stringer.

About the speaker

  • Headshot of Isabelle Mooney

    Isabelle Mooney is a PhD student at the University of St Andrews, supported by a Carnegie Trust scholarship. Her thesis considers how artists in Britain navigated the apocalyptic landscape of bombed-out London as it underwent social reconstruction and urbanisation in the post-war period, placing the visual impetus of the bombsite at the centre of this discussion. Isabelle recently conducted research on post-war collages made by John McHale and Nigel Henderson at the Yale Center for British Art as a recipient of a Visiting Scholar Award.