Category Archives: Posters

Poster Parade – Literary London

29 January – 29 April 2016

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Every three months a new Poster Parade is installed for visitors to enjoy at London Transport Museum (LTM).  The themes of the poster parades are often selected to either showcase a particular strength of the LTM poster collection, coincide with an exhibition or celebrate national or international events such as the Olympic Games. The poster parades are usually curated by young museum professionals such SOCL trainee curators or University of Leicester Museum Studies Interns. A SOCL trainee curator is a traineeship position provided by Cultural Cooperation in partnership with London Transport Museum through their Strengthening Our Common Life (SOCL) programme which encourages greater diversity in the Museum workforce.

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As a current SOCL trainee at LTM I had the privilege of curating the current Poster Parade, Literary London, which explores the ways in which designers have engaged with the subject of literature in posters commissioned by London Transport and Transport for London. The display also celebrates National Storytelling Week (30 January – 6 February 2016) and World Book Day (3 March 2016).

Book illustration

Selection and Design Process

Posters

The theme for the exhibition was chosen because literary references are a recurring theme in London’s transport posters, from the early 20th century to the present day. The posters displayed in the exhibition were chosen because they are prime examples of four ways posters engage with books and literature and they are arranged in four sections to reflect this. The sections are called Country Walks, Children’s Book Illustrators, Poems and Prose and Today’s Commute – Read all about it.  Posters from the Country Walks series were chosen because they are an example of a London Transport publication. A section about children’s book illustrators was chosen because many poster designers in the collection were also children’s book illustrators or come from an illustration or graphic design background. Poems were an important addition to the Poster Parade because the Museum holds a large collection of posters from the Poems on the Underground series. The last section Today’s Commute – Read all about it contains posters with literary references from the contemporary poster collection.

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The order of the posters was chosen to reflect the sections and look visually appealing. This process was aided by a creation of a virtual model on SketchUp Make software which allows Curators to move the posters around and visualise what they would look like once they were installed without the physical objects. This was advantageous in regard to selecting the best posters and order for the display. Please see below for an example of a mock up:

Mock up

Interpretation material

Interpretation material was written in accordance with the Museum’s editorial guidelines which detail for example, how TfL and its predecessor institutions should be referred to and that written material should provide neutral accounts of historical or political events. The curator writes the introduction panel and labels. The interpretation material is edited by the senior curator and librarian to ensure the guidelines are adhered to and the text is written to the best standard possible. Once the editing process has been completed it is given to the design department for formatting and printing.  The labels are printed in NJ TfL Book (16 point) typeface which is the house style and digital version of the Johnston typeface which is used across TfL from signage to publications. This is a clear san-serif font like Helvetica which is favoured by publishers and designers for its clarity which makes it suitable for a museum audience to read.

The Poster Parade can be found on Mezzanine Level 1 of the Museum and is on display from 29 January – 29 April 2016.

Many of the posters on display are available to buy in the museum shop and online at http://www.ltmuseumshop.co.uk

For more information on the SOCL Trainee program and the University of Leicester Museum Studies course please see the links below.*

http://www.culturalco-operation.org/education_and_training
http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/museumstudies

*Links to external websites are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by London Transport Museum of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organisation or individual. London Transport Museum bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of the external website or for that of subsequent links. 

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How to Curate a Poster Parade

As we all (hopefully) should know by now, this is the Year of the Bus. It’s also the theme for the Museum’s next Poster Parade; a temporary museum exhibit showcasing posters from our collection. Normally, the curators choose the posters for each of these exhibits. However for this Poster Parade we want you to help us make our selection, in celebration of the London Bus! A simple search of the collection’s database reveals over 5000 potential choices. We’ve  narrowed this down to 30 and we need your help to reach the final 15 that will go on display.

You can vote by ‘Liking’ your favourite in our
Poster Parade Facebook Album

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Our extensive research (and much coffee!) resulted in a selection of posters which reveal some interesting historical developments and consistent themes in the life of the London bus. You might notice Shillibeer’s Omnibus and the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) – the first reliable motorised bus – as well as the B-type, appear in several of our choices. The discontinuation of the Routemaster in 2005 and the introduction of low emission fuel buses also feature, to name but a few. Bus posters do not necessarily reflect all these changes, however there were a number of themes emerging.

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Shillibeer’s Omnibus c.1829
routemaster
Two RM-type Routemaster c.1972

Themes include recruitment, leisure trips and sightseeing as well as competition between bus, taxi and tube travel. There are also a range of stylist differences across the decades. The eighties posters might ring a few bells for you; from a decade in transport which saw the introduction of night buses and bus passes! If you prefer bright, animated images, vote for ‘Hop on a bus’ or ‘The motor omnibus for all ages’. The colourful London General posters from the 1920’s might catch you eye; or you might prefer the mixed media styles such as ‘Busabout’ and Eckersley’s ‘See London by Bus’.

Either way, we hope you like the selection and vote for your favourite!

The Day Before the War

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Underground Day, Charles Sharland, 1914

The brightly coloured poster above by Charles Sharland was issued to promote the August bank holiday of 1914. It declares 3 August as ‘Underground day’ and encourages passengers to make their choice of what to do and where to go from the many destinations available by tube and bus.

However, when the day came, festivities were overshadowed by the threat of Britain becoming involved in the war on the Continent. By the end of the following day, on 4 August 1914, Britain had declared war on Germany.

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Bank Holiday, artist unknown, 1919

The poster for the 1919 bank holiday reflects on the changed circumstances. The ‘short’ war had turned into a four year conflict with millions of lives lost, and many more changed forever. For the first time there had been a home front, with Londoners at risk from aerial bombardment.

The subdued design gently invites passengers to enjoy holidays once more. The emphasis of the trains, buses and trams being at the service of Londoners reminds us of the important role that London transport staff and vehicles played in the war.

Did you know: Originally the bank holiday in August was the first Monday of the month, as dictated by the Bank Holiday Act (1871). This was until the Banking and Financial Dealings Act (1971) decreed a century later that it would fall, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, on the last Monday of the month. Why? One suggestion was that as the latter half of August is cooler the roads would be less busy with the crowds that thronged to the seaside, getting drunk and causing all sorts of mid-Summer mischief!

Find out more about London and World War 1 at London Transport Museum’s current exhibition Goodbye Piccadilly: From Homefront to Western Front

Posters and Propaganda

To tie in with our First World War Exhibition Goodbye Piccadilly we’ve focused our current Poster Parade on the use of Propaganda in posters, specifically those used on the Homefront. The 20 posters featured reflect advertising campaigns during both the First and Second World Wars.

The term ‘propaganda’ is not easy to define and all of the posters featured can be interpreted differently. Propaganda messages during this time were included, often surreptitiously, in advertising and other public messages.. At the beginning of the First World War, we can identify an emphasis on encouraging leisure travel and shopping. During the Second World War, we see greater use of patriotic and politically charged imagery. Posters also served to boost morale and provide safety information to the general public. However propaganda is defined, the posters produced in wartime were designed to influence thoughts and promote specific action.

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They shout for joy, they also sing – Flags of Allied Nations, 1944, Austin Cooper

Austin Cooper, a Canadian born artist, moved to London in 1922 and began producing posters for London Transport. Cooper is mainly known for his colourful, abstract style and in the pre-war years produced posters promoting travel by underground to places of heritage and the museums in South Kensington (http://tinyurl.com/cnspj9)

The poster‘They shout for joy, they also sing – Flags of Allied Nations’ (1944) is strikingly different to his other works. The central flags of The Republic of China, The United States of America, The Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) and Great Britain represent the super powers of the time. The white star and blue background at the top of the poster is reminiscent of the League of Nations, which was formed after the First World War. Is its inclusion intended as a symbol of unity?

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We had difficulty identifying all of the flags, but fortunately Cooper designed a key to illustrate them!

If you want to learn more about propaganda posters during the First World War, why not attend the talk by David Bownes, Assistant Director of Collections at the National Army Museum, at London Transport Museum on Tuesday 2 September.

Written by Hayley Jedrzejewski, Collections Assistant

Poster Parade – I Love London

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Summer outings by private bus, Verney L Danvers (1925)

This year London Transport Museum is celebrating the Year of The Bus and to mark the centenary of the First World War the Museum is restoring one of the last surviving B-type buses. At the beginning of the War over 1000 operational B-type London buses were commandeered for transporting troops to and from the Western Front. They were also used as ambulances on the front line and even as a mobile pigeon lofts. Once restored to full working order, our Battle Bus will act as the centrepiece for a programme of commemorative events and displays.

Our latest Poster Parade I Love London features 20 posters specially chosen by staff here at the Museum that demonstrate what they love about living and working in London. Included in the poster parade is Summer outings by private bus by Verney L Danvers (1925).

In order to maximise profits at weekends from the late 1920s up until the early 1960s London transport offered many of their vehicles for private hire at a fee. Often these busses were hired out for leisure to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and venture out into the country.

This delightful poster was designed at a time when London’s population was continuing to grow in the early decades of the 20th century and the city expanded rapidly through suburban development at the outskirts of London and into the counties of Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Middlesex and Surrey.

Time to indulge in leisure activities was becoming more widely available, not least day trips to the beautiful London countryside of the Home Counties. In London days out by bus were promoted by the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) and included private bus hire as illustrated in the poster.

The excursionists are wearing their Sunday best outfits ready to enjoy a delicious picnic in the bucolic setting of a bluebell wood. Country walks were marketed as a healthy antidote to a week spent in an office or factory. Longer distance ‘rambling’ became particularly popular during the interwar years. The shadows on the pathway show that it is a brilliant sunny day and the image communicates blissful tranquillity and leisure, giving no hint of the undercurrents of the famous General Strike which took place the following year.

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The London bus companies also laid on transport for the thousands of Londoners who went to the Epsom Derby every year. Buses hired out for use at The Epsom Derby, June 1931 showing people sitting eating at a table on board the top deck of B-type bus.

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The Underground Group also organised many such trips on buses and trains to take children all over London.  The charitable outings, often for underprivileged London children, also generated positive publicity for the transport services.

Children’s outing arranged by Dalston bus garage, here the K-type motor buses have been hired out for an underprivileged children’s outing on 17th of August 1927.

Private hire children

Post written by Chloe Eden Winter Taylor, Assistant Curator

Poster Art 150: And the Winner is…

Brightest London is best reached by Underground, Horace Taylor, 1924

basket Buy Brightest London Poster

The results are in and the public have decided that the best London Underground poster of all time is Brightest London is best reached by Underground, designed by Horace Taylor in 1924.

Over 42,000 people voted in the Siemens Poster Vote, choosing from 150 posters that featured in our exhibition Poster Art 150 – London Underground’s Greatest Designs.

Brightest London drew 1752 of the votes with London Zoo by Abram Games (1976) and Underground – the way for all by Alfred France (1911) – securing 1614 and 1342 votes respectively.

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London Zoo, Abram Games, 1976 © Estate of Abram Games
4-Underground; the way for all
Underground – the way for all, Alfred France, 1911

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

basket Buy London Zoo Poster
basket Buy Underground – the Way for All Poster

The winning poster was created when cinemas still showed black and white films; vibrant posters like this splashed colour into 1920s London. The Underground is presented as bright, popular and extremely fashionable with a very smart crowd heading out for a night on the town. Still vibrant almost 90 years after it first brightened Underground stations, it is easy to imagine how effective it must have been at the time. The artist’s granddaughter once explained that Taylor often liked to paint himself into his posters. In this one he is the gentleman with the top hat and the beard on the middle escalator.

The Poster Art 150 exhibition opened on 15 February 2013 and was due to close in October but was extended until 5 January 2014 due to popular demand. It formed part of the 150th anniversary of the London Underground celebrations and featured posters by many famous artists including Edward McKnight Kauffer, Man Ray and Paul Nash, and designs from each decade over the last 100 years. Information about some of the posters featured in the exhibition can be found on this blog.

The posters were selected from the Museum’s archive of over 3,300 Underground posters by a panel of experts; the 150 that appeared in the exhibition show the range and depth of the Museum’s collection.

Director of London Transport Museum, Sam Mullins, said “The number of votes for Brightest London is impressive given the public had a large selection from which to choose.  We’re delighted that so many people participated in the Siemens Poster Vote which reinforces the view that our poster collection is one of the best loved collections of graphic art in the world.”

Siemens Rail Systems UK Managing Director, Steve Scrimshaw, said “We were proud to be part of the 150th anniversary of London Underground, and have been delighted by the success of the Siemens Poster Vote, it has really captured people’s imaginations.  It is fascinating to see how design has changed over the last 150 years – we have many engineers who are passionate about design, maybe Poster Art 150 has given them some new ideas!”

Poster of the Week: Poster Art 150

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Poster Art 150 (Old East London Line Top) Brightest London, 2013

Vote for your Favourite Poster

As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is. There’s now only a few days left to see our Poster Art 150 exhibition – so come along before 5 January and don’tforget to vote for your favourite!

Vote Now

This poster is one of six designed as a series to promote London Transport Museum’s fantastic exhibition, Poster Art 150 exhibition – London Underground’s Greatest Designs, a key part of the celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the world’s first  Underground railway. Each poster comprises ‘teaser’ elements of some of the poster designs to be found in the exhibition. To help bring more clarity to the selection of images, the exhibition has six themes, Finding The Way, Capital Culture, Away From It All, Keeps London Going, Love Your City, and this poster depicting my favourite exhibition grouping, Brightest London.

The poster has been very cleverly designed by the Museum’s Head of Design, Sau-Fun Mo,  and fully represents the largely Art Deco flavour of this exhibition theme, without giving any substantive view of the posters on display. Highly colourful, it attracts attention and subliminally invites people to visit. As is often the case with such intelligently designed posters, the image has been a commercial success; Poster art can still attract great attention as well as function as exemplary marketing. Long may this survive.,. This poster and the other five in the series  can be purchased at our Covent Garden shop and also online – along with other exhibition themed gifts.

There are only a couple of days left to see the  Poster Art 150 exhibition as the last day is Sunday 5 January 2014. You can vote for your favourite in the Siemen’s Poster Vote until midnight the same day. We’ll be announcing the winning poster the following week.

Have you voted for your favourite poster yet?

Vote Now

Poster of the Week: Theatre – go by Underground

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Theatre – go by Underground, Barnett Freedman, 1936

Vote for your Favourite Poster

As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is. Is it this one? Let us know by voting now!

Vote Now

Have you been to a pantomime this festive season? Or perhaps you have been to see a play. This lovely pair of posters by Barnett Freedman would have encouraged Underground passengers from the 1930s to head to the theatre for entertainment.

Each poster works just as effectively on its own as it does in a pair, with the Underground roundel logo on the left poster enough to indicate that the Underground is the best way to get to the theatre. The posters were sometimes displayed together, and sometimes separately, as the two photos below show.

Putney Bridge Station, January 1937
Putney Bridge Station, 1937

Westminster station
Westminster Station, 1936

Up close, the posters show Freedman’s mastery as an auto-lithographer. Auto-lithography is when an artist draws directly onto the lithographic plates or stones themselves, rather than let the litho-craftsmen at the printers adapt their original artwork. This poster shows Freedman’s innovative use of this technique to create unique textures in the poster. Barnett Freedman was a pioneer in the revival of colour lithography and he illustrated numerous literary works as well as designing publicity for Shell, the BBC and the General Post Office and Ealing Films.

It’s almost the final week of our Poster Art 150 exhibition – so come along and marvel at Freedman’s craftsmanship before 5 January. And don’t forget to vote for your favourite!

Have you voted for your favourite poster yet?

Vote Now

Poster of the Week: Keep Warm:Travel Underground

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Keep Warm:Travel Underground, Kathleen Stenning, 1925

Vote for your Favourite Poster

As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is. Is it this one? Let us know by voting now!

Vote Now

With Christmas just around the corner and the weather suitably chilly, it can be with some relief when you descend into the warmth of your local Underground station.

The Underground Group’s publicity department often promoted the Tube as the best way to travel, whatever the unpredictable British weather. In 1925, Kathleen Stenning was commissioned to design a set of four posters presenting the Underground as a refuge from extreme weather conditions and the most appropriate way to navigate the Capital. In this version of Stenning’s series, the Underground is portrayed as warm, vibrant and festive, encouraging people to get out and about despite the winter cold.

In the same way that the red house stands out as a beacon of warmth and comfort against the snow, so does the Underground train. It is alive with activity, with one woman selling flowers and a glamorous couple alighting. While there are no people to be seen above ground– all presumably huddled up in their homes (or travelling Underground)  – the train is full of people.

Promoting the capacity to provide refuge in inclement weather was a popular concept for the Underground Group during the 1920s. It was a theme that had been used in the Group’s publicity since its inception, with a number of posters emphasising the warmth and brightness of the system. 1926 and 1927 saw a duo of celebrated posters, a variation on a set by Austin Cooper in 1924, produced by Frederick Charles Herrick which similarly stressed the protective nature of the Tube.

Although the image in the poster is inevitably idealised, it is still true that when the snow is falling and the roads are impassable, the Underground can act as a source of comfort to Londoners enjoying the festive period.

Have you voted for your favourite poster yet?

Vote Now

Toyland Mobilizing for Christmas in 1914

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Tony Sarg, In Toyland, 1913 © TfL

Throughout 1913, Tony Sarg produced a series of 12 posters called ‘Humours of London’ for the Underground Electric Railways Company of London. They were issued monthly and depicted humorous scenes of London’s famous places and activities.

For Christmas 1913, Sarg produced a poster called ‘In Toyland’ representing a scene of gift-buying frenzy. Children clamber on the floor with toys in hand, and rotund gentlemen struggle to carry their spoils. Despite Sarg’s gentle mockery of London’s materialism, there is a festive, joyful exuberance to the poster.

The 1913 poster was due to be the last in the ‘Humours’ series but 12 months later, the country was at war. In 1914 Sarg duly produced a topical version of his ‘In Toyland’ poster of the previous Christmas. The image in the top half was identical to the original, but the text and characters in the lower half were altered.

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Tony Sarg, Toyland mobilizing for Christmas, 1914 © TfL

Now the text read ‘Toyland mobilizing for Christmas. By Underground to the children’s recruiting depots’. The present-laden family group which originally occupied the space is replaced by toy soldiers in khaki, horse-drawn guns and ambulances. There is even a rather graphic depiction of an allied toy soldier standing on top of a vanquished, decapitated German combatant.

The poster was issued for Christmas 1914 and this patriotic version of the original would have been seen as a popular alternative to the usual Christmas poster. There was some initial optimism after the declaration of war that it would ‘all be over by Christmas’ but by the time December arrived it was obvious that it wouldn’t be.

Interestingly, Sarg actually originated from Germany. He entered a military academy when he was 14 years old and received a commission as lieutenant at the age of 17. However, in 1905 Sarg gave up his commission to the German military and moved to the United Kingdom, before finally moving to the United States in 1915.