Most of the artwork in the museum collection is thought to date from the period of the collapse and its aftermath, though some items probably belong to a later era. Little is known about the origins of the individual works, and in most cases no record remains of the artists themselves. The works remain without context, but these fragmentary glimpses of the past help us to construct an idea of what change might have looked like through contemporary eyes.
1. Sketch of the Serai waystation, from the diaries of Jane Bennet
Jane Bennet; Gouasche and ink on paper
This drawing was taken from the diaries of Jane Bennet, an itinerant architect and diarist whose writings are invaluable for their detailed account of the emergence of localised autonomous communities in the aftermath of the collapse. The drawing shows the Serai way station, a guest house Near Sheffield on the Old North Road, which was an important convergence point for members of the grass-roots autonomous network that had begun to organise in opposition to the vestiges of centralised government. The cyclist in the foreground isis Bennet’s friend and travelling companion Andrzej Reid, himself an influential journalist of the period.
2. Collage (untitled)
Unknown artist, mixed media
It is not clear whether this image represents an actual location, or a place in the artist’s imagination, but in either case it gives a rough indication of the kind of social and economic relations that must have characterised the aftermath of the collapse before the ultimate emergence of a more egalitarian network strong enough to challenge the residual might of the old elite.
3. Mixed media drawing (untitled)
Unknown artist, mixed media
Childhood in the stark landscape of post-industrial Europe. The artist appears to have worked directly onto a photographic image, perhaps from a newspaper or other publication, and seems to have found an optimistic note in the original photograph, which has inspired further elaboration. The work is perhaps unfinished, unsigned and poorly mounted, and may never have been intended for display.
4. Original layout design for a Guy Fawkes night event poster
Unknown artist; pencil on greaseproof paper, adhesive tape, industrial board.
The 5th of November was an annual festival to mark a failed plot to blow up the ‘House of Parliament’ where the heads of state traditionally met to debate matters of government. Effigies of the perpetrator, one Guy Fawkes, were cremated in communal bonfires, attended by fireworks either to commemorate of the plot’s failure, or in celebration of the sheer audacity of the attempt. The hand-drawn design in contrast to the more usual digital (electronic) media suggests that the poster was produced at a time when access to other technology was not available, due to either economic scarcity or control of resources by the state, for political reasons.
5. Ink and sepia drawing (‘The Old Ferry, Keynsford’)
Unknown artist; Ball-point pen and watercolour on mountboard in wood and glass frame
Probably the work of a hobbyist, or produced as a memento for tourists, this drawing shows a pole ferry being operated on a late summer afternoon, somewhere on the River Avon. Exactly where the settlement of Keynsford stood is not clear, but the place-name appears to derive from St Keyne, who is said to have lived on the banks of that river in Celtic times.
6. Digital Print (untitled reproduction)
Unknown artist;Digital print on paper
Little is known about this image, which depicts an abandoned industrial barge converted for domestic use.