The British Council operates in over 100 countries and, as it says on their website, works “with millions of people, connecting them with the United Kingdom, sharing our cultures and the UK’s most attractive assets: English, the Arts, Education and our ways of living and organising society.” Sounds like a bit of a ‘job for the boys’ to me, but as they exhibited one of my pieces of furniture as a part of the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan a few years ago, so I can’t really be too harsh on them. Their website also states that:-
The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We call this work cultural relations.
Seventy years ago, when Europe was torn to shreds by the Second World War, they were more urgently concerned with promoting Britishness and counteracting any anti-British propaganda expressed by the Nazi’s. To do this they commissioned over 120 documentaries throughout the 1940’s as a form of ‘cultural propaganda’. These films were seen around the world right up to the 1960’s and have since been stored in the British Film Institute archives. In collaboration with Google, who funded the project, they have been restored, digitised and made freely available on the internet.
This archive now forms a fascinating view of how Britain wanted to be seen by the world. Not only is it freely available online but the films are downloadable and people are encouraged to use them as they wish, which could result in some interesting mash-ups!
In their own words:-
We don’t want this collection to be just a static directory of old films; we want people to use it as a creative resource, to seek inspiration within its varied content and unusual history. We want you to download these films, to reinterpret them, and to share your interpretations with the world.
Here’s a not very good example – can you do any better? I’m sure you could…!