This is the first detailed account of the remarkable British writer and artist John Hargrave (1894-1982) and his three creations: The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift, The Green Shirt Movement for Social Credit and The Social Credit Party of Great Britain. Combining art, politics and design to visually stunning effect, Hargrave and his followers created a maverick but uniquely English form of modernism, one which harked back to a mythical past but also looked forward to a futuristic Utopia when mankind would be freed from the tyranny of work and war. A product of his turbulent times, Hargrave believed in ritual, ceremony, symbology and the 'resolute imagination' of the creative individual as the keys to a better world.
The book draws on the extensive visual archive of the Kibbo Kift, held at the Museum of London, comprising graphic designs, photographs, ceremonial objects, banners, costume, regalia, log books and archive material, much of which has not been seen in public since the 1920s and 1930s. The collection includes many striking photographs by Angus McBean, official 'Kin Photographer' in the late 1920s. Designing Utopia also touches on Hargrave's career as a writer. In his novels, as with his graphics, Hargrave's imagination drew from the fragmented modern world of mass culture, advertising and film he saw around him and re-cast its elements in ways that suited his convictions about social order.
Hargrave and the Kibbo Kift have been under-explored by cultural historians. But their time has come. The story of the Kibbo Kift has strong resonances with twenty-first century debates about art, politics, individualism, anti-capitalism, nature and the environment. It is also a story about English youth adapting to a new century, new ideologies and a new sense of possibilities in a global world.