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20th Century Design from Shipley to New York

Visitors to Shipley Art Gallery in the North East of England and MA students in New York may be thousands of miles apart but are linked by the work and research of Professor Cheryl Buckley.

Professor Buckley spent three decades studying aspects of 20th Century Modern Design at Northumbria University, and her knowledge and expertise has contributed to the transformation of Shipley Art Gallery into one of the most important locations for modern British Design curation outside of London.  Her research has also been used to develop the curricula for two internationally renowned MA programmes at the Copper-Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Museum in New York.

The Henry Rothschild collection is one of the UK’s finest collections of post-war studio ceramics and is housed at Shipley Art Gallery. Drawing on her research, Professor Buckley has helped provide a historical context and a deeper understanding of the wider cultural influences of the designs.  Along with others, she supported Shipley Art Gallery during the setting up of the Henry Rothschild Study Centre (HRSC). The HRSC opened in 2010, offering members of the public and professionals greater access to the ceramics collection. They are allowed to handle the pieces, under supervision, and to find out more about their provenance and the academic research that supports the collection. This gives visitors a much richer experience than simply seeing the objects displayed in a cabinet.

Buckley was also part of the Advisory Panel, along with two other experts, who advised on Shipley Art Gallery’s acquisitions for its ‘Collecting 20th Century Design’ project in 2009.  Buckley’s expertise in rethinking design in Britain through a regional lens-contributed to the Gallery eschewing a London-centric approach and instead choosing objects which demonstrated the ways in which modernism had contributed to the visual and material culture of the North East of England. To date, the project has resulted in the collection of several key design objects that tell a story about design in Britain that emphasises the regional influence.

Across the Atlantic, Professor Buckley’s research on design and gender, design in Britain and fashion is having a far-reaching influence on an international community of future museum curators and design practitioners. She has been involved with the National Design Museum in New York since 2008 and has designed and developed three intensive modules for two of its masters’ course. Sarah Lawrence, Dean of Art and Design at Parsons School of Design credits Buckley’s research, saying it “helped to re-invigorate a well-established but theoretically under-developed Masters programme.”

Professor Buckley now teaches and researches at the University of Brighton.


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