Annebella Pollen, The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift: Intellectual Barbarians, Donlon, 2016
The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift: Intellectual Barbarians is the first full-length work to explore the innovative cultural production of the English camping and hiking organization (1920-1932). Founded after the First World War as a reaction to militarism in scouting, Kibbo Kift developed into an all-ages organization for men and women. It attracted the support of a range of high-profile writers, artists, scientists and campaigners from DH Lawrence to HG Wells. Underpinned by a complex, distinctive philosophy, Kibbo Kift's practices were wide-ranging, extending across health and handicraft, pacifism and propaganda, myth and magic, education and economics. These ambitious ideas can be seen most clearly in the group's mystical and modernist art and design. The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift: Intellectual Barbarians features over 100 largely unseen examples of the group's accomplished creative output. These include decorated tents, campaign banners, illuminated manuscripts, protest graphics, carved totems and ceremonial attire alongside previously unpublished photographs by Angus McBean. The textual content, underpinned by extensive research in public and private archives, provides comprehensive analysis of the group's original style and occult beliefs. Visually arresting in its own right, The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift: Intellectual Barbarians showcases a fascinating but overlooked body of work that has continuing resonance for twenty-first century oppositional art and culture.
Annebella Pollen is Principal Lecturer in the History of Art and Design at the University of Brighton, UK. Her publications include Mass Photography: Collective Histories of Everyday Life (IB Tauris) and Dress History: New Directions in Theory and Practice (Bloomsbury).