Almond, Kevin and Massey, Ian (2011) Raiding the Past: Understanding the Present A symposium looking at the impact of visual culture in the 1960s and 1970s. In: Raiding the Past: Understanding the Present, 16th February 2011, University of Huddersfield. (Unpublished)

The overriding philosophy for mounting the Symposium was to promote the value and importance of research to undergraduate students in art and design. The 1960’s and 1970’s, has great currency for students, for whom retrospective research is often relevant to their studies. In focusing upon these key decades it capitalizes on how the design industry revives art and design styles from significant past decades and makes research appear to be easily identifiable with for students. Students rarely fully understand depths of visual culture historically and often demonstrate a superficial awareness of this in their research, focusing on the most obvious stylistic references attached to a period and re-interpreting these in a contemporary way.

Keynote Opening Speech by co-co-ordinators;
Kevin Almond and Ian Massey
Raiding the past: Understanding the Present
Four speakers were engaged who were experts on the 1960’s/1970’s and who through their work had made a considerable impact either during or about the period. Each speaker outlined the research methods they utilised within their work, and described how both primary and secondary research informed their outcomes.
The four key speakers were:
• Sylvia Ayton MBE, Chair of the Costume Society. Former business partner to Zandra Rhodes in the 1960’s and for thirty years Head of Design at Wallis;
Talk; ‘My Love Hate Relationship with Couture’
• Professor Lou Taylor, Dress Historian Author of several books including ‘Through the Looking Glass which focused on individual decades in dress and social history in the twentieth century;
Talk: 'On Their Own Terms- an assessment
of the development and impact of 'youthquake' fashions, 1958-68.
• Michael Bracewell, writer/cultural commentator, author of Re-make/Remodel: Art, Pop, Fashion and the making of Roxy Music (Faber);
• Dominic Lutyens, writer/journalist, co-author of 70s Style and Design (Thames & Hudson).
The symposium also had several other key aims and objectives:
• The intention was to create a dialogue between students and staff across subject disciplines, to network and exchange ideas with creatives beyond individual disciplines.
• To promote and establish an understanding of the need for wide-ranging and relevant research, away from the ‘Google culture’.
• To promote the link between the practical and the theoretical.
• To promote an interdisciplinary approach to design research.
A range of research methods was described and discussed. The speakers were experts on aspects of the visual culture of the period. Each approached research from a different standpoint of interest/expertise/discipline that included;
• Fashion design
• Costume/dress history and theory
• Cultural commentary/popular culture
• Design history
This breadth of approaches to research was an ideal platform from which to inform and inspire the students, and allow them to reconsider their own research methods. Distinctions between primary and secondary research and the value of each were outlined. This demonstrated the need for a more analytical and relevant approach to both visual and written work, leading to a more informed level of dialogue within both studio practice and theory.

AlmondRaiding.pdf - Accepted Version

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