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Exhibition celebrates Bilston's "Happy Housing"

Visitors to Bilston Craft Gallery will be treated to a major new exhibition which looks at the town's intriguing contribution to the history of social housing.

Otto Neurath pictured in 1940. Please credit Österreichisches Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsmuseum
Otto Neurath pictured in 1940

Bilston’s Happy Housing celebrates Otto Neurath’s vision for post-war modern living. Images © Architects Journal, © Ella Briggs estate, © Janet Melia and © Camera Craft
Bilston's Happy Housing celebrates Otto Neurath's vision

Bilston's Happy Housing: Otto Neurath's Vision for Post-war Modern Living opens on Saturday 7 March and tells the story of how Austrian sociologist Dr Otto Neurath brought modernist thinking from Vienna to the Black Country and inspired Bilston's town planners with his radical, community focused approach.

Neurath was invited to be the town's Consultant for Human Happiness in 1946. Although his ambitious ideas of providing state of the art social housing similar to that of 1920s Red Vienna were modified, the essence of his vision remained and ultimately resulted in Stowlawn Estate.

Bilston's Happy Housing brings together fascinating archival material and recordings and recollections of some of the earliest residents of Stowlawn. The exhibition also features an array of domestic items, adverts and memorabilia from the post war era, reflecting the optimistic, 'new look' mid century modern style that took the country by storm.

Old Hall stainless steel tableware, iconic domestic ceramics and studio pottery by Lucie Rie will be among the items on show. Alongside these will be work by contemporary designers inspired by the bold mid century look. These include textiles and wallpapers by St Jude's and Mini Moderns, stylish coffee tables by Judy Clark and classic cutlery by David Mellor.

Councillor Elias Mattu, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Leisure and Communities, said: "Many people in Bilston probably don't realise the significance of the town's housing designs so this is a fantastic opportunity to tell the story of Stowlawn Estate and its curious links to Vienna.

"The post war period was a remarkable time for bold new approaches to design and this exhibition will capture the optimistic mood of the era."

Bilston's Happy Housing: Otto Neurath's Vision for Post-war Modern Living runs until 2 May, 2015. Bilston Craft Gallery is open Tuesdays from 10am to 4pm, Wednesdays from 10am to 7pm, Thursdays and Fridays from 10am to 1pm and Saturdays from 11am to 4pm.

A celebration evening and panel discussion on Where Bilston Meets Vienna will take place at Bilston Craft Gallery on Wednesday 18 March, starting with a tour of the exhibition at 6pm and followed by a debate between housing experts from Austria and the UK. All are welcome.

For more information about Bilston Craft Gallery, please visit Bilston Craft Gallery or call 01902 552507.

  • released: Friday 27 February, 2015