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At the heart of English folk
Margaret Lester-Garland’s Wire Models

#2: Margaret Lester-Garland’s Wire Models

Through lack of information the model maker's identity can’t be substantiated, Margaret Lester-Garland (1893-1976), an artist and teacher at Bath Art Academy in the forties, may have been the one cited in the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) records. Similar models depicting the Bampton Morris side, a donation to EFDSS were ‘[…] dressed by Miss Margaret-Lester Garland in 1937.’ (1956 vol 8 No 1 EFDSS journal).

Margaret Lester-Garland’s Wire Models

Born in Oxford, she studied at the RCA between 1925-27, taught drawing at Bath Art Academy from 1946, and continued to live and work in Bath producing paintings and drawings, which she went onto exhibit up until her death in 1976.

Assessing Margaret Lester Garland's models reveals how the selection and editing of the archive is inextricably bound to the pervasive collective political ideology of English Folk Song Society at the time. In 1898 Sharp and his colleagues formed the society - which later English Folk Dance Society joined with to form EFDSS - and popularised a ‘revival’ of traditional culture.

They planned to substantiate and promote English folk song and dance practiced in working-class communities, but the idealised project remained - at least for a long time - rooted in bourgeois concepts of ‘Englishness’, ‘authenticity’ and ‘national identity’.

Margaret Lester-Garland’s Wire Models

Sharp focussed his attention on ‘regenerating’ and ‘reviving’ the specific dances which most appealed to his dogmatic vision; these included the Cotswold Morris and Long sword dancing, both of which are represented in these models.

Early 20th century industrialisation and urbanisation threatened to diminish Sharp’s idealised principles of national identity, many of his chosen dances having originated outside the major industrial hubs.

His approach preserved a limited view of folkloric dance culture and consequently reflects his disregard for dance forms that were aligned or associated with what he saw as 'decadent' activity, such as Rapper sword-dance.



National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble


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