Poster of the Week: Waterside London

Waterside London, Hans Unger, 1972

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Hans Unger’s wonderful 1972 design promotes travel to London’s lakes, canals, streams and rivers.

‘Waterside London’ reflects an experiment with new printing techniques. Should you come to the Museum to see the poster up close, you will note that the original artwork had quite an interesting finish. Unger’s design was printed using a powdery blue ink and a green lacquer, creating a striking rough and smooth effect. These inks were later found to be highly vulnerable to decay, making this poster a rare example of this technique.

Unger was a prolific poster designer for London Transport. He is a fine example of one of the very skilled graphic artists who continued to produce high quality graphic designs during a period when pictorial posters commissioned directly from artists were in rapid decline. During the 1960s publicity was increasingly contracted out to agencies. However the innovative use of new materials and techniques, as can be seen in Unger’s design, contributed positively to the stylistic development of the art poster, in spite of their depleting numbers.

Today, posters continue to promote the activities and services of Transport for London. Although most have been designed by agencies, London Transport Museum has drawn on the organisation’s history to commission new pictorial art posters. This includes a number of new posters that mark the recent Tube150 celebrations. Mike Walton, Head of Trading at the Museum and responsible for the commissions, states: ‘For some commissions a key challenge was to combine both heritage and current Underground operations in a way that was contemporary in appearance but communicated 150 years of history with elegance and simplicity. The 2013 Chelsea Flower Show poster also cleverly combines 12 different flowers in a Tube map form which is highly successful visually and helped celebrate 100 years of Chelsea Flower Show and 150 years of London Underground.’

You can see some of the new Tube150 commissions in the Museum’s current Poster Parade display, ‘Moments in time’. This display, which compliments the Museum’s Poster Art 150 exhibition, celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Underground and pays homage to the organisation’s poster commissioning history.

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