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(ISSN: 1742-254X) is published bi-monthly six times a year in January, March, May, July, September and November by Selvedge Ltd. Registered Office 14 Milton Park, Highgate, London, N6 5QA. Copyright © Selvedge Ltd 2010. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is strictly prohibited. The editor reserves the right to edit, shorten or modify any material submitted. The editor’s decision on all printed material is final. The views expressed by contributors are not necessarily those of Selvedge magazine, Selvedge Ltd or the editor. Unsolicited material will be considered but cannot be returned. Printing: Westdale Press Ltd UK. Colour Origination: PH Media. Web Design: datadial. Distribution: DHL Global Mail, Periodicals Postage Paid at Rahway NJ. Postmaster send address corrections to Selvedge Magazine, DHL Global Mail (UK) Ltd, Mills Road, Quarry Wood, Aylesford, Kent, ME20 7WZ. Subscription rates for one year (6 issues): Paper Magazine, UK £50.00; Europe €75.00; USA $125.00; Canada C$135.00; Australia AU$100.00; Japan ¥10,500; Rest of World £75.00
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“Like the British Constitution, she owes her success in practice to her inconsistencies in principle.” Thomas Hardy is not alone in attempting to sum up the driving force behind the
British, but with his paradoxical little aside in TheHandofEthelberta he comes closer than many others. Contradiction, or pure contrariness as some, such as Luella Bartley, pg 26, might say does seem to propel the British forward…
We’re a nation with a long and complicated history but with a reputation for innovation, particularly in fashion and textiles as our round up of new graduates, pg 40, proves. Tradition is important to us but often just provides something to push against (Britain must be home to the happiest iconoclasts). Symbols of the establishment offered inspiration to the Sex Pistols while remaining a source of pride for patriots as Sarah Jane Downing points out as she traces the history of the Union Flag, pg 16. Perhaps it is our geographical isolation that fosters an independent way of thinking? Geography certainly plays a part, but again there’s contradiction. We are a green and pleasant land that owes much of its wealth to dark, satanic mills. But we are beginning to understand the beauty of our industrial past as the Queen Street Mill in Lancashire shows, pg 46.
In East Anglia contrast can be found in the textile legacy of the city of Norwich, pg 54, where early industry brought great wealth but where sleepy villages surround the area’s churches and stately homes, pg 60, seemingly untouched by commerce. Of course, it wasn’t isolation that ensured the success of Norwich’s textiles. Dutch, Flemish and Walloon settlers known as ‘Strangers’ brought their skills to the region and were an important part of the recipe. Maybe that is a clue? Is it the British ability to absorb and assimilate that is the key to our creative success. Great Britain is a repository of peoples and influences from around the world and has benefited greatly. It’s an approach reflected in our greatest institutions, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, pg 87. The world's greatest museum of art and design is an idiosyncratic place offering many different things to many different people. Surprisingly personal for such a vast entity, it contains grand monuments and tiny, intricate works of art, ancient pieces and new works by contemporary artists – it has something for everyone and is worth exploring and celebrating – a microcosm of our entire, wonderful island.
Polly Leonard Editor in Chief
We asked contributors to tell us what they love about British design...
CLARE LEWIS, pg 60
David Mellor is a British designer I have admired since childhood when I thought his Sloane Street Shop in London was the apogee of modernity. I hadn’t realised until recently when I visited his factory and shop in Derbyshire that he designed the iconic traffic light.
ROBERT CHENCINER pg 48
BECKY OLDFIELD pg 91
The V&A was set up to improve the standard of British design. The method chosen was to showcase applied art in true British style – muddling scientific and decorative design together in an eclectic, occasionally confusing but always inspiring way...
What I love most about British design is British designers: open to ideas, able to use traditional and modern techniques and apply these across many disciplines. Competitive yet at the same time aware that design moves forward by sharing ideas.
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