Intellectual Barbarians: The Kibbo Kift Kindred

  • Kibbo Kift Kindred members at camp, 1928.  Courtesy of Judge Smith, Kibbo Kift Foundation.

    Kibbo Kift Kindred members at camp, 1928, Courtesy of Judge Smith, Kibbo Kift Foundation, © Kibbo Kift Foundation

Past Exhibition

This exhibition was on 10 Oct 2015 – 13 Mar 2016

Intellectual Barbarians: The Kibbo Kift Kindred

10 October 2015 – 13 March 2016

This archive display features rare woodcarvings, furniture, ceremonial dress designs and photographs of the English organisation The Kibbo Kift Kindred (1920-1932).

Formed by the artist, writer and pacifist John Hargrave after becoming disillusioned with the Boy Scout movement, the Kibbo Kift philosophy was based on a shared appreciation of nature and handicraft, as well as a commitment to world peace. Though small in number, notable members of the group included suffragettes, scientists and the novelist H.G.Wells.

A 1929 exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery was a way of spreading their ideas, and this display reveals their remarkable aesthetic drawn from ancient Egyptian, Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Native American crafts, dress and language.

Through revealing photographs and footage of the group on parades and camping trips, this display presents not only a forgotten moment in British social movements but a futuristic vision which continues to resonate today.

Image 7 - Kibbo Kift, Skald headTalk

The Craft of the Woods
Thu 10 Mar, 7pm

Join an evening of art, music and conversation with exhibition co-curator Annebella Pollen, who discusses the creative inspiration that can be found in Kibbo Kift ideas and imagery with musician Judge Smith, co-writer of the 1976 Kibbo Kift musical.

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Art, Politics and Magic: The Kibbo Kift Kindred
Sat 6 Feb, 11.30am–6pm

The Whitechapel Gallery’s day long-symposium dedicated to the Kibbo Kift Kindred brings together artists, academics, Kibbo Kift descendants and members of related groups.

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Whitechapel Gallery archive displays are generously supported by Catherine and Franck Petitgas.

Intellectual Barbarians: The Kibbo Kift Kindred is co-curated by Dr Annebella Pollen, Principal Lecturer, History of Art and Design and AHRC Research Fellow, University of Brighton, and Dr Nayia Yiakoumaki, Curator: Archive Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery.


Find Out More

Read the press release here

See Whitechapel Gallery exhibitions from 1901-1950 here

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