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O.G.S Crawford

(2008) O.G.S Crawford

Record type: Art Design Item


Osbert Guy Stanhope Crawford (1886 – 1957) was a field archaeologist who pioneered aerial photography after seeing its potential in the First World War. He was the first Archaeology Officer at the Ordnance Survey in Southampton, and lived for most of his life in Nursling, just outside the city, where he is buried. He was an influential and visionary figure in the history of archaeology in this country. This exhibition, ranging from images of archaeological sites, anti-Nazi graffiti in Berlin between the wars and advertising hoardings, to images of suburban developments in his home city, is based on Crawford’s extraordinary archive of photographs, mostly taken by himself and never before shown.

Distance, in Crawford’s view, brought clarity; and he saw world history – and the future – in the broadest possible perspective, perceiving patterns in times past and in things to come. The passage of time, from prehistory to a utopian future, could be charted (and photographed); it was evident in the design of ploughs, for instance, in the rise and fall of superstitions, in the organization of domestic space.

Since the 1960s the process of collecting, categorising and archiving images and objects has underpinned the approach of many artists, to which Crawford’s photographic practice bears a striking relationship. Crawford was himself an expert photographer, emerging at the same time as well-known modernist photographers like Walker Evans, the German New Objectivity photographers, and in this country, Neo-Romantic artists like Paul Nash and John Piper.

Yet in Crawford’s opinion there was no time for art, when there was so much to be discovered by science; and when evolution was speeding up towards the bright socialist future he perceived in Soviet Russia. His political faith did not last and the preparations he took for a Brave New World turned out to be redundant. But this diverse and affecting archive remains the evidence of his vision.

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Accepted/In Press date: 2008
Additional Information: O.G.S. Crawford is a John Hansard Gallery exhibition curated by Kitty Hauser, Research Fellow, University of Sydney and author of Bloody Old Britain: O.G.S. Crawford And The Archaeology Of Modern Life, (Granta, 2008), and Ewen McDonald, previously Acting Head of Programmes, Museum of Contemporary Art, SydneyTo co-incide with the publication of 'Bloody Old Britain' by Kitty Hauser, University of Sydney, Australia.
Organisations: Winchester School of Art, Professional Services


Local EPrints ID: 210773
PURE UUID: 9f0424de-890b-4690-a1a8-f94392548d41

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Date deposited: 16 Feb 2012 16:27
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 10:45

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Curator of an exhibition: Stephen Foster
Curator of an exhibition: Kitty Hauser

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