Archibald Knox and Sites of Memory (Archibald Knox as Ynnydyn Corinne)
This dissertation examines the role of the Manx artist and designer Archibald Knox(1864-1933) in shaping British design at the end of the nineteenth/beginning of the twentieth century. Through examining his work in both London and on the Isle of Man, I argue that many of Knox’s designs were a response to modernity through the creation of sites of memory. Knox’s work, both in London and later in his career on the Isle of Man, negotiated a number of social, political and artistic spaces through a revitalization and reinterpretation of Celtic ornament. His designs addressed the loss of Manx traditions and folklore at the end of the nineteenth century, and the resulting Cultural Renaissance, as well as the British desire for an acceptable historic past to combat political and social insecurities at the end of the century, shifting consumer and social patterns, and the culture of World War I remembrance. Chapter 1 studies Knox’s education at a regional Government School of Art, located on the Isle of Man. Knox’s education was based in the strict pedagogy of the South Kensington educational system, however, he was also influenced by several teachers who urged him to be more experimental, as well as the Manx Cultural Revival. Chapter 2 focuses on Knox’s work in London for Liberty & Co, and how the influential retailer manufactured and sold “Celtic” objects. Knox negotiated designing an “invented history” for his employer, while incorporating actual Celtic ornament from his home into the designs. Chapter 3 analyzes Knox’s illuminated manuscript The Deer’s Cry which connected the mythology of the past in a contemporary object, transferring oral history into written form. Finally, in Chapter 4, Knox’s WWI memorials on the Isle of Man are analyzed to understand how the Manx memorialized WWI as an autonomous nation, but also as part of the British Empire. Knox’s memorials for churches and civic groups are shown to be similar to those in the rest of Britain, but in his Book of Remembrance for Douglas High School, Knox reconfigures the traditional form to create a personal, religious and individualized site of memory.