Sunday, 26 September 2021

Exhibition recalls the golden age of design

LOVERS of art and all things vintage will be interested in a new exhibition of 17 rare and striking transport

LOVERS of art and all things vintage will be interested in a new exhibition of 17 rare and striking transport posters depicting the golden age of travel at the River and Rowing Museum, writes Lesley Potter.

The exhibition, which runs until March, is called Stuck Up, and brings together important posters produced by London Transport during the early 20th century. All of the posters are linked to leisure on the Thames, including the University Boat Race. The collection, which is drawn from London Transport Museum and the River and Rowing Museum’s archives, captures the destinctive design aesthetic of the era.

During the early 20th century there was a growth in interest in the River Thames as a leisure destination. Leisure pursuits such as punting, swimming, rowing and rambling increased in popularity with a general movement towards outdoor healthy living.

London transport companies, keen to capitalise on this, used marketing campaigns to sell the Thames as a day out of the city at an affordable price.

Paris in the 1890s had seen the emergence of the modern graphic poster, which was taken up by artists including Toulouse-Lautrec and Bonnard and revolutionised commercial advertising. It was a concept that quickly spread around Europe, including the UK. In Britain, Frank Pick was the man associated with transforming the poster from a humble provider of information to an artwork in its own right. Pick became a publicity officer for London Underground in 1908. He initially used commercial artists to encourage the use of the London Underground but became dissatisfied with the quality of design and began inviting young artistic talent to produce the artwork instead.

By the 1920s this approach had helped transform poster advertising in the UK. During the Twenties and Thirties, bold and striking posters appeared with artists drawing inspiration from avant-garde art movements such as Cubism and Futurism. The invitation to design these posters came to be seen as an honour for both established and emerging artists.

Christopher Rodrigues, Chairman of VisitBritain, opened the exhibition. He said: “Following on from Britain’s extraordinary success this summer, it is fascinating to be reminded how important tourism has been to our economy for more than a century. The beautiful posters recall a bygone era of gentle charm and outdoor pursuits.”

Curator Suzie Tilbury said: “This collection of rare posters represents a fantastic period in time for British design. Seeing all the posters alongside one another in this way paints a vibrant picture of Britain in the early 20th century.”

The museum is open every day from 10am to 5pm. Visit www.rrm.co.uk

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