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BBC and V&A announce major new year-long partnership, Handmade In Britain


The BBC and V&A today announce Handmade In Britain, a year-long season of programming that will be the most wide-ranging and ambitious exploration of decorative arts ever to be undertaken on British television.

Ceramics, metalwork, stained glass, textiles and woodwork are some of the most beautiful and treasured objects with pride of place in British palaces, churches, stately houses and family homes. Handmade In Britain brings these fascinating, functional and often forgotten works of art to the fore in a major new season of programming which will explore the history of British artistry and craftsmanship.

Furthering the BBC’s commitment to building partnerships with the arts sector that go beyond broadcast, from sharing expertise to widening public engagement in UK arts, from Autumn 2011 to Autumn 2012, Handmade In Britain will present three, three-part series and a selection of individual hour-long films, focusing on a wide variety of art and design disciplines: ceramics, wood, metalwork, textiles, stained glass and paper.

The programmes will follow the development of each of these media, unveiling stories about the objects that tell us about the social, political and cultural climate of Britain at the time in which they were made. They will also reveal why, throughout the nation’s history, makers have created objects that are beautiful as well as functional.

BBC Four Controller Richard Klein said: “BBC Four is the home of in-depth, expert led content and the channel for arts and culture. Handmade In Britain will provide a new perspective and a deeper understanding of the decorative arts. Our partnership with the V&A will celebrate these often overlooked treasures of British culture, giving viewers access to one of the world’s finest art and design collections.”

Damien Whitmore, V&A Director of Public Affairs and Programming, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to bring the V&A’s collections and the stories behind them to a national audience. We are delighted to be collaborating with the BBC on this important partnership.”

Handmade In Britain will draw on the collections and expertise of the V&A, one of the world’s greatest museums of art and design. V&A objects will be used to tell particular stories, highlight ground-breaking technical innovations and illustrate how the story of artistic development in Britain is one of multiculturalism and globalisation. Contributors to the programmes will include V&A curators as well as collectors such as David Attenborough and contemporary practitioners including Grayson Perry and Edmund de Waal.

The series begins this autumn with a three-part series on ceramics and two single 60-minute programmes on stained glass and Chinese porcelain (1).

To complement the Handmade In Britain season, the V&A will host a series of events and will create online content and an in-gallery mobile experience. Using smart phones, visitors to the Museum will be able to locate and learn more about key objects featured in the programmes that are on display in the V&A’s permanent galleries.
Notes to Editors

The V&A is also a partner in the BBC and Public Catalogue Foundation initiative Your Paintings. Contributing art works to help create a complete online catalogue of the nation’s oil painting collection.

The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. It was established to make works of art available to all and to inspire British designers and manufacturers. Today, the V&A’s collections, which span over 2000 years of human creativity in virtually every medium and from many parts of the world, continue to intrigue, inspire and inform.

BBC Four is the gold card channel for arts, music and culture. It is not just committed to arts coverage but actively celebrates arts, producing content with a broad appeal. From seasons such as Focus On Sculpture to one off programmes like the Beauty Of Books.

(1) The craze for imported Chinese porcelain contributed to an unprecedented demand for high-quality ceramics in Britain, played a significant role in the rise of the British ceramics industry in the 18th century and to the success of makers and entrepreneurs such as Wedgwood. This episode provides an important historical context to the story of the development on ceramics in Britain.


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