Archiving the folk: an historiographic inquiry into folk art in England, 1945-2005

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University of New Brunswick


This report provides an historiographic analysis of the ways in whichart historians, curators, and scholars categorized English folk artbetween 1945 and 2005. After examining literature that approaches the study of folk culture critically, this report surveys the historiography of English folk art in particular. It argues that since folk art is an art historical and a museological category advanced by those seeking to locate cultural producers living in opposition to urban capitalist modernity, examining the context of folk art in the birthplace of industrialism is particularly significant historically. It then uses Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane's 2005 exhibition "Folk Archive" as a case studyto examine folk art as an interrelated artistic and social category. It concludes by demonstrating that "Folk Archive" expands the folk art category in the twenty-first century, by displaying objects and images that challenge previous categorizations of English folk art.