“Keywords: Art, Culture and Society in 1980s Britain, is a new take on how the changes in the meaning of words reflect the cultural shifts in our society. This dynamic exhibition takes its name and focus from the seminal 1976 Raymond Williams book on the vocabulary of culture and society.
An academic and critic influenced by the New Left, Williams defined ‘Keywords’ as terms that repeatedly crop up in our discussion of culture and society. His book contains more than 130 short essays on words such as ‘violence’, ‘country’, ‘criticism’, ‘media’, ‘popular’ and ‘exploitation’ providing an account of the word’s current use, its origin and the range of meanings attached to it. Williams expressed the wish some other ‘form of presentation could be devised’ for his book, and this exhibition is one such interpretation.
Almost sixty works by artists such as Rita Donagh, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, John Latham, Stephen McKenna, Carl Plackman, Donald Rodney, Jo Spence, and Anne Tallentire are grouped in relation to key words from Williams’s book. Words such as ‘liberation ’, ‘behaviour ’, ‘unconscious’ and ‘romantic’ will be juxtaposed with works, encouraging further exploration and debate.”