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Elizabeth Bisley

MA work

The holiday camp sat at the centre of a number of key social, political and planning debates in Britain in the late 1930s and 1940s. Implicated in pre-war schemes for the mass evacuation of civilian populations, camps were requisitioned for military purposes during the War. They were then placed at the heart of reconstruction plans for popular leisure. This dissertation addresses the holiday camp’s resonance over this period through an examination of its design. Imagined and built as a split form, the mid-20th century holiday camp was simultaneously both fleeting and ephemeral, and also fixed. In its material plays between the stable and the transitory, the surface and structure, the open and the enclosed, the holiday camp offers a way of accessing a broader imagined process of physical change. 1930s and 1940s Britain was characterised by critical debate about the material world; the scope and use of space for material means. The holiday camp, with its malleable form, offers a fascinating route into the corners of these debates. In a sense, holiday camps were ways of shaping rural or seaside space. Stretching between city and country, home and holiday, past and present, they allow for a critical extension of the bounds of design history into wider questions of designed nationality, designed ephemerality or designed enclosure.

Info

  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Humanities

    Programme

    MA History of Design, 2009

  • The holiday camp sat at the centre of a number of key social, political and planning debates in Britain in the late 1930s and 1940s. Implicated in pre-war schemes for the mass evacuation of civilian populations, camps were requisitioned for military purposes during the War. They were then placed at the heart of reconstruction plans for popular leisure. This dissertation addresses the holiday camp’s resonance over this period through an examination of its design. Imagined and built as a split form, the mid-20th century holiday camp was simultaneously both fleeting and ephemeral, and also fixed. In its material plays between the stable and the transitory, the surface and structure, the open and the enclosed, the holiday camp offers a way of accessing a broader imagined process of physical change. 1930s and 1940s Britain was characterised by critical debate about the material world; the scope and use of space for material means. The holiday camp, with its malleable form, offers a fascinating route into the corners of these debates. In a sense, holiday camps were ways of shaping rural or seaside space. Stretching between city and country, home and holiday, past and present, they allow for a critical extension of the bounds of design history into wider questions of designed nationality, designed ephemerality or designed enclosure.

  • Degrees

  • BA (Hons) History and Art History, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, 2003
  • Experience

  • Tutor in Art History, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand, 2004-5; Research Assistant, City Gallery Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand, 2004-5
  • Awards

  • MA Essay Writing Prize, Design History Society, 2008; Clive Wainwright Memorial Prize, 2008; VUW Medal for Academic Excellence, 2003