• APR 25 to APR 26
    Parallel of Art & Life: A Conference on the Independent Group


    • Educational
    • Contemporary

    Dates and Opening hours

    APR 25 to APR 26, 2013

    Event Location

    ICA - Institute of Contemporary Arts

    The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH
    United Kingdom

    View website


    Two day ticket: £35 / £30 Concessions / £20 ICA Members / £15 Student ICA Members
    Single day ticket: £20 / £18 Concessions / £15 ICA Members / £10 ICA Student Members

    View the Parallel of Art & Life Conference Programme and Schedule (PDF).

    It is 60 years since the ground-breaking exhibition Parallel of Life & Art took place at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. This two day event investigates the exhibition work of the Independent Group at the very institution which first fostered and encouraged the practice. Moreover, the conference will also consider ways in which the Independent Group have been, and continue to be, exhibited.

    How can the Independent Group’s transdisciplinary practice best be understood and exhibited? The event follows on from last year’s event, BUNK: Celebrating 60 Years of the Independent Group which contributed to broader understanding of British art and architecture; the papers are to be published in a special issue of the Journal of Visual Culture Summer 2013.

    The main aim of the conference is to bring together researchers, practitioners and curators who are working on aspects of the Independent Group, to share their knowledge and approaches to this seminal moment in the history of British visual culture. Although it only met between 1952-55, the issues explored by the members, including architects Alison and Peter Smithson, James Stirling and Colin St John Wilson; artists Magda Cordell, Richard Hamilton, Nigel Henderson, Eduardo Paolozzi, William Turnbull and Nigel Henderson and writers Lawrence Alloway, Reyner Banham and Toni del Renzio, continue to resonate today.

    The exhibitions organised by the group – Growth & Form; Tomorrow’s Furniture; Parallel of Life & Art; Man, Machine & Motion and sections of This is Tomorrow – were highly innovative, both in terms of layout and the range of objects displayed. Building on the ICA’s Surrealist legacy, the Independent Group shows introduced the new age of modernity and mass culture to the gallery space. Reflecting the Group’s collage mentality, new technology and high end design were juxtaposed with avant garde art.

    Many of the Independent Group members went on to work across and between disciplines. In addition, no fewer than seven exhibitions devoted to members of the Independent Group will be taking place, or are being planned, at the time of the conference. Therefore, the two day event represents the opportunity to share strategies, explore ideas, and explain decisions taken by exhibition curators. The history of the Independent Group has come under increased scrutiny internationally over the past ten years, and this sequel to last year’s event will provide an opportunity for researchers to meet and share their enthusiasm with each other and with a broader audience at the ICA.

    Please note that the exact schedule may be subject to change

    Thursday 25th April

    New Voices: Research Students Present Their Work

    Kevin Lotery (Harvard University)
    An Exhibit/An Aesthetic

    Claudia Marfella (Kingston University)
    Nigel Henderson and Eduardo Paolozzi: Italian connections

    Ann Pillar (University of Reading)
    Edward Wright (1912–1988) artist, designer, teacher

    Elly Thomas (Slade School of Art)
    Meccano Work: Eduardo Paolozzi’s Kits

    Refreshment Break

    Jessica Kelly (Middlesex University)
    Exhibiting Differences
    (hiding similarities)

    Hannah Durham (Architectural Association)
    In the ‘The House of the Future’ (1956) and ‘This is Tomorrow’ (1956), where was the consideration of the role of sound in these two exhibitions?

    Giulia Smith (UCL)
    Human Images by the Independent Group



    Welcome and Introduction
    Matt Williams (ICA) and Hilary Robinson (Middlesex University)

    Ben Highmore (University of Sussex)
    Anxious Vision: New Brutalism and Parallels of Life and Art

    Michelle Cotton (Firstsite, Colchester)
    Hammer Prints

    Ben Cranfield (Birkbeck College)
    The Parallel Structures of the Curatorial

    Refreshment Break

    Alex Coles (University of Huddersfield)
    The Independent Group: A Transdisciplinary Approach

    Reception and Private View of The Independent Group: Parallel of Art & Life at the ICA.

    Friday 26th April

    Nayia Yiakoumaki (Whitechapel Art Gallery)
    Exhibiting The Independent Group

    Martin Hammer (University of Kent)
    Respect: The IG take on Francis Bacon


    Clare Lilley (Yorkshire Sculpture Park)
    William Turnbull

    Hannah Dewar (Tate Modern)
    Richard Hamilton

    Simon Martin (Pallant House Gallery, Chichester)
    Eduardo Paolozzi: Collaging Culture

    Katy Norris (Pallant House Gallery, Chichester)
    Jean Dubuffet, Art Brut and ‘New Brutalism’

    Refreshment Break

    Victoria Walsh (RCA) and Claire Zimmerman (University of Michigan)
    Aesthetic Slogans: Hunstanton School and the Photography of Life and Art, 1949-55

    Anne Massey (Middlesex University)
    Exhibiting The Independent Group

    Round Table Discussion:
    Chaired by Professor Jon Bird, Middlesex University

    Closing Remarks and Next Steps

    In collaboration with Middlesex University and curated by Anne Massey

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