Late Debate: Women of the Future

Written by Volunteer, Carrie Long

C21st Suffragists: Time Travelling Feminists

C21st-Suffragists

“Well done Sister Suffragette! … We’re clearly soldiers in petticoats” was the uplifting tune that rang out as I entered London Transport Museum for its Late Debate: Women of the Future, celebrating the centenary of (some) British women gaining suffrage.

The Museum after dark offered a unique experience, with historic London buses and trains, once driven by a predominantly masculine workforce, now providing a striking backdrop to an empowering exchange of innovative women.

London Transport Museum’s focus on ‘Women of the Future’ made it stand apart from other centenary events. Historically embedded in the impact that the emergence of public transport had on women’s emancipation, the museum turned our attention to the present and the future, with informative topical discussions, combined with fun creative workshops and the chance to network with modern day feminists. The event transported me on a journey through time, bridging the history of women’s suffrage with today’s continued campaign for equality.

First Stop: 1890

My journey of discovery started with Victorian women inventors and their extraordinary cyclewear. As well as giving guests the chance to try on outfits, Kat Jungnickel’s research project – Bikes and Bloomers – insightfully and playfully highlighted the important role women played, not only as feminist campaigners, but as Victorian engineers, designers and radical feminist inventors.

Bikes and BloomersFawcett-Society
Women-InstituteUnderwear-bunting

Next Stop: 1918

More untold stories from feminist history were revealed in a series of PechaKucha talks, celebrating the achievements of women from Millicent Fawcett to the all-female builders of Waterloo Bridge. I was reminded how important it is to look beneath the surface, especially as I found out that statues memorialising women make up only 2% of monuments in London.

Next Stop: 1968

Inspired by a legendary protest by nearly four hundred second-wave feminists in 1968, some allegedly burning their bras, London Transport Museum invited visitors to write their feminist fury on paper pants and bloomers, in a workshop run by feminist campaigner and underwear designer Rachel Kenyon.

#BehindEveryGreatCity2

To the Future:

Modern day feminist, founder of the Women’s Equality Party and author Catherine Mayer, dressed in a space outfit to present her vision of future called ‘Equalia’ – an alternative world in which men and women have achieved full equality. Meanwhile, an expert-packed panel discussed how to achieve this future. With a definite focus on the transport industry, they still touched on a lot of the same themes, such as the need for equal parental care. Less pressure on men to ‘wear the trousers’!

A commitment for the future…

Having travelled and considered many costume changes through time, I know that the mission for equality is far from over. But having been surrounded by a community of inspiring women and men fighting for equality at this event, I am committed to keeping the conversation going, challenging gender stereotypes and facing obstacles with innovative ideas. I hope you’ll join me sister (and brother) suffragette?

www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/events-calendar/shaping-ldn 

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Battle Bus Research Volunteer Project – Session One

This blog is part of a mini-series of updates about the Battle Bus Research Volunteer Project. To keep up-to-date with all the latest programme activities, please visit the ‘Battle Bus’ section in London Transport Museum blog.

Session One

This year the Battle Bus project is focussing on ‘London’s Memories’. We are starting the programme of activities with a research volunteer project, to uncover stories of transport workers involved in the First World War.

Marta Kronberga, one of our research volunteers, describes what happened in the project’s first session:

This week we were based at the Museum Depot at Acton. We started the morning with some group activities to get to know each other better and discussed what makes good presentation skills. We then went to explore the famous Battle Bus, with curator Katariina Mauranen, who worked on the bus restoration project.

Battle Bus group activity

This amazing B-type bus was introduced in London in 1910, and was operated by the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC). More than 1,000 of these buses were sent to war, many with their bus drivers. They were used to transport troops to and from the front lines. After the war, only around 400 buses came back to London and many were in such bad condition they were just used for parts.

It was such an interesting experience. We got to hear about the story of the Battle Bus, sit on the top deck, see all the little details and some of us even got a chance to sit in the driver’s seat!

Behind the wheel of Battle Bus

After lunch it was time for some more group activities. This time each group created a presentation from documents we were given, to get us in the mood to start thinking about the Battle Bus research project. We discussed the First World War in general, remembrance of the war and stories of individual transport workers. Everybody was really interested in the postcards and letters sent from or to soldiers, and the personal stories they showed.

Battle Bus group activity

At the end of the day we were given a tour of the Depot by Keith Raeburn, the Depot Supervisor. It was a great chance to see the development of London buses. We saw everything from horse-drawn omnibuses to ones that are almost the same as the buses on London streets today. We also saw posters and objects from the collection and of course Underground trains that were used throughout the 20th century.

At the end of the day it was clear that we have a great group of volunteers with different interests and backgrounds. Hopefully this will give us some fascinating outcomes at the end of the project. Let’s see where this research will take us!

Comeback every week to read the latest instalment on how our volunteers are getting on with their Battle Bus project.

The bright young things who put women centre stage

Written by David Bownes, co-curator of Poster Girls – a century of art and design and Director of twentiethcenturyposters.com

Of all the designers featured in the Poster Girls exhibition, none were as glamorous as the Scottish-born sisters, Doris and Anna Zinkeisen, whose precocious talent, beauty, and modernity propelled them into the centre of interwar London’s fashionable art scene. Typically described in the pages of society papers as ‘extremely pretty’ and ‘brilliantly clever’, it would be easy to view the sisters as the epitome of the entitled ‘bright young things’ parodied by Evelyn Waugh in Vile Bodies (1930). But there was so much more to Anna and Doris than this, as their extraordinary body of work testifies. And as the posters in London Transport Museum’s exhibition show, it was a body of work that put confident, independent, women firmly on the centre stage.

Born in 1898, Doris was the elder of the two by three years. Despite the age gap, they trained together at the Royal Academy Schools and by the mid-1920s were sharing a studio in London. The range of their work was dazzling, including book illustration, publicity for railway companies, murals for the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth ocean liners, and society portraits of the fashionable ‘set’. Doris also developed a hugely successful career as a stage and costume designer for theatre and films, working alongside Noel Coward, Charles B Cochran and Cole Porter.

But it is their depiction of women that strikes the viewer as truly modern. Take, for example, the panel posters produced by Anna for the inside of Tube carriages. These show dynamic, active, women who are not defined by their relationship to men – a far cry from most commercial art of the time. Similarly, Doris’ unpublished poster of female theatre goers (1939) depicts a group of young women enjoying a night out without an obvious male chaperon (shown above). And the subject matter, too, is far removed from traditional ‘feminine’ commissions. Anna’s output for the Underground included motor shows, air displays and military parades. There was also something distinctly racy about their portrayal of the modern woman. The scantily clad revellers of Anna’s Merry-go-round poster (1935) would raise eyebrows even today, while Doris’ costumes for the West End play Nymph Errant (1933) were regarded as so revealing that the chorus girls refused to wear them. In the changed circumstance of the Second World War, their work became less frivolous but no less assertive, as their moving depictions of female war workers demonstrates.

  

Image: Merry-go-round (1935) Anna Zinkeisen

Inspired by the Zinkeisen sisters and their female design contemporaries, London Transport Museum is hosting a very special evening event this Friday celebrating the Golden Age of the 1920s and 30s poster design.  Experience vintage girl power and iconic art movements through curated lectures and workshops and discover Poster Girls after hours. With music, dancing and bars it promises to be a fun night.

Full details can be found here: https://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/friday-lates

 

Happy 80th birthday Carol Barker

Happy 80th birthday to Carol Barker, illustrator and author 

Written by David Bownes, co-curator of Poster Girls – a century of art and design.

The multi award-winning illustrator and author Carol Mintum Barker turns 80 on 16 February. I first met Carol last year while researching London Transport Museums Poster Girls exhibition, and I’m not surprised to learn that this sprightly artist is celebrating her landmark birthday teaching young women art and design in Rajasthan, India. In fact, Carol has been visiting and working in India since the 1970s, and has helped many women out of poverty and on to university through art education.

Her remarkable career began sixty years ago. Inspired by her artist father, John Rowland Barker, Carol attended Bournemouth College of Art, Chelsea Polytechnic and the Central School of Arts & Crafts. She became a freelance illustrator in 1958, eventually contributing to over 30 books. Until the late-1970s, her work was most closely associated with children’s book illustration, including a collaboration with the comedian Spike Milligan (The Bald Twit Lion, 1968). It was during this period that she designed four posters for London Transport (LT) promoting Fenton House (1966), London Museum (1969), Children’s London (1973) and London’s Museums (1979) – a selection of which can be seen in the current exhibition at Covent Garden. Her designs in pen and ink, watercolour, collage and wax, capture the joyful exuberance of the age, and are arguably among the best posters commissioned by LT at that time. London Museum in particular is a rich visual scrapbook of the Capital’s past, and visitors to Poster Girls are encouraged to compare the original 3D artwork with the printed poster (both on display). My favourite, though, is the Children’s London pair poster, which was praised by the internationally renowned design journal, Modern Publicity (1974) as one of the best British posters of the previous year.

Since 1977, Carol has undertaken several extensive research trips to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Africa, Tibet and elsewhere to produce non-fiction ‘picture-information’ books for children which sympathetically record day-to-day life in other cultures. On one of these trips she was given a rare private audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Her work, often at the behest of international organisations such as Oxfam and the United Nations, has garnered critical acclaim and achieved worldwide publication.

Children's LondonCarol Barker 60s

David Bownes is the Director of twentiethcenturyposters.com

For more information about Poster Girls – a century of art and design and our public programme of events please visit www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/events-calendar

Browse the Poster Girls shop range  www.ltmuseumshop.co.uk/poster-girls

the first women poster pioneers

A Room of One’s Own

David Bownes, co-curator of the Poster Girls – a century of art and design exhibition

90 years ago, the author Virginia Woolf argued that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”. This call for a literal and figurative space, free of male control and domestic responsibilities, applied equally to all areas of female creative endeavour. Yet as Woolf knew all too well, women had few opportunities for genuine financial and creative independence in the 1920s. Commercial art, as graphic design was then known, provided one of these opportunities, and London Transport was at the forefront of commissioning female talent. How did this come about?

When Frank Pick took charge of the Underground’s publicity in 1908 the male-dominated advertising industry regarded women artists, at best, as suitable for illustrating ‘feminine’ subjects or children’s books. From the start, Pick took a progressive view towards commissioning irrespective of gender or subject matter. The first poster by a woman appeared on the company’s trams in 1910, and by 1930 over 25% of all Underground publicity was designed by women.  No other British company or government agency took such an enlightened stance or promoted female designers to the same extent.

In finding young artists Pick was greatly helped by a revolution in the teaching of art and design in London, led by the Central School of Arts & Crafts. Women made up a disproportionate number of the students on commercial art courses, and in Pick they found a willing patron able to jump start their careers with the gift of well-paid and high-profile poster commissions.

But it wasn’t a feminist triumph in the modern sense. Male designers were still paid more and achieved greater fame than their female colleagues. And many promising careers were cut short by marriage and the expectations of childcare and running the family home. The names of these female poster pioneers, too, have been criminally neglected by history. Who now has heard of Nancy Smith, Dora Batty, Herry Perry, Margaret Calkin James, or the dozens of successful women designers whose work enlivened the hoardings in the first 50 years of the twentieth century?

On 25th January design historians Oliver Green, Ruth Sykes and Susannah Walker will be exploring these themes in more detail at London Transport Museum’s A Room of One’s Own evening event www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/events-calendar/talks#room Starting with the first commissions in the 1910s, the speakers will chart the crucial role of London art colleges and London Transport in providing training and employment opportunities for women designers and ask whether female artists bought a new aesthetic to the male world of commercial art.

Lambourne End

Letter from Santa

Santa has been spotted in our Museum and has written a letter to let all of the children know about his visit, how they can find him and the festive activities they can enjoy.

Ho Ho Hello!

My goodness what a busy time we’re having here in the North Pole! So many letters to read and gifts to wrap, there’s almost no time to sneak off to London Transport Museum. That’s right, you may not ever have noticed before, but tucked away behind old Routemasters and London Taxis is my secret cosy Christmas hideaway. This is where I come to relax, read and try out the latest toys from the elves workshop.

Why not join me? Oh what fun! You can make your own decorations (here’s a video from one of the elves to show you how simple it can be!) and take part in a festive storytime and singalong about travelling in the city at Christmas – which trust me, isn’t easy, especially with such a heavy sack of presents to carry. Some years, I honestly don’t know how I manage to deliver everything on time, not with all the rush hour traffic (thank goodness for public transport!).

I’ve even decided to give the reindeer a couple of nights off and have booked a vintage bus tour of the city’s West End lights. If you’re not doing any last-minute Christmas shopping why not come along on the 21 or 22 December?

Oh, look at the time! I must go and finish wrapping the latest toys from the workshop!

I hope to bump into you at London Transport Museum for some festive fun very soon. If you see me, please do say ho ho hello, I’ll be around every day until 23 December (I have a long standing prior engagement on Christmas Eve).

Merry Christmas!

Santa, Mrs Clause, the elves and all the reindeer

Santa's hideout

Connecting London’s Past and Present

The Museum’s extensive range of learning programmes, which includes work with families, schools, communities and young people, provides exciting opportunities to make connections between transport’s past and the present-day lives of Londoners.
None perhaps more so than the Battle Bus Project. Since the restoration of the B-type bus number B2737in 2014 the Museum’s Learning Team has been delving deeper into the story of London’s buses during the First World War, working with young people in Tottenham and Camberwell to bring the story of the Battle Bus back to the communities and streets of London where it all began. Vicki Pipe, who is our Family and Community Learning Manager, describes the projects in more detail.

Focus on Tottenham
In 1914 Emily Lee Graves married William Ely. During the war years Emily worked as a Clippie (a female bus conductor) on London’s B-Type buses. It was the first time women were allowed to work on the buses, and Emily was one of 3,500 females who took up the role. In May 1917 William was tragically killed fighting in France. Emily continued to work as a Clippie, raising a small child at the same time and later marrying a local tram driver Hubert Pearson.

Students from Northumberland Park Community School in Tottenham who learnt about Emily’s story visited the grave of William Ely during a trip to Fosse No. 10 Communal Cemetery in France. Maggie Bonfield, William and Emily’s granddaughter who grew up in Tottenham, met with student Serkan Ahmed after their journey to find out more about the group’s experience and to thank them for sharing William and Emily’s story with others.

Focus on Camberwell
When war broke out in 1914 1,000 buses were requisitioned by the War Office from across London, including Camberwell Bus Garage.  Life on the home front in Camberwell, as with all parts of the country, was challenging. Everyone was expected to contribute to the war effort including children, who were even encouraged to give up their pocket money to help. Young people worked hard during the war knitting scarfs and socks for soldiers, with some as young as 12 taking jobs in factories or on farms. Approximately 600,000 children went to work instead of going to school.

Young people from Lyndhurst Primary School in Camberwell worked with an artist, actors and the Battle Bus Learning Team to discover what life was like growing up as a young person during the First World War. They shared the stories they discovered through the creation of  artwork inspired by children’s comic books from the time. Their work is now on display in Camberwell library, where more young people will learn about the ‘Home Front Heroes’ of London from 100 years ago.

Young people from Camberwell

Young people from Camberwell get up close to the Battle Bus whilst finding out about their Homefront Heroes

You can find out more about the Battle Bus project, and where and when it can be seen via the link below
https://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/learning/community-learning/battle-bus

A new discovery

One of the major strands of our new display Digging Deeper, supported by Biffa Award, is to celebrate the contribution of the Victorian engineer James Henry Greathead to the development of tube tunnelling worldwide. New research during exhibition work sometimes presents opportunities to find out more about objects in our care, and can reveal exciting new information. I’m happy to say this is one of those times.

We have had this demonstration model of the first circular tunnelling shield in the world in the collection for many years, but we didn’t know much about it. We know that Greathead designed and built the shield that it represents – the one that built the Tower Subway in 1870 – but we couldn’t be sure of a link between this model and the inventor, until now. By looking into the history of the donor I have discovered that the model had been passed down through the family of another engineer who worked with Greathead in the 1880s, establishing a direct link to the great man himself. Now it is not just a model, it’s a part of world tunnelling history, and will be on display for the first time, when the gallery re-opens in March 2018.

Shield Model

Here we see the shield’s six screw-operated rams and representation of two complete tunnel lining rings, which workmen would construct one at a time as the shield moves forward.

Shield in use

In this picture the men are turning the screws which force the tubular shield forward by the width of a tunnel lining ring.

Simon Murphy, Lead Curator, Digging Deeper project 2017

Bryan Avery – an appreciation by Sam Mullins, Director of London Transport Museum

Bryan Avery, late architect of the new museum

I am sad to report on the death of architect Bryan Avery, who led the design team for the extension and refurbishment of the Museum at Covent Garden which was launched in November 2007. We chose Bryan  because of his skillful use of awkward space under Waterloo Bridge, for the creation of the Museum of the Moving Image in 1988 (which closed in 1999), for the glazed exterior of the IMAX at Waterloo (1999) and the brilliant performance and support spaces at RADA (2000).

A primary consideration for London Transport Museum was a new glazed screen entrance to give the Museum a light and attractive face onto the bustling east piazza of Covent Garden.  Our brief also included a new basement space now known as the Cubic Theatre, a comfortable 120 seat space for lectures, corporate hire, music and film, with great acoustics and moquette fabric covered seating. The third major element was to introduce an independently supported mezzanine floor high in the west transept of the grade two listed Flower Market building of 1871, with access by stairs and lifts at both ends. The fourth element was the improvement of the historic building’s performance as a Museum space, controlling light levels and heat gain and loss from what is essentially a cast iron greenhouse. Over-cladding, louvring and the largest installation of solar panels on a listed building to supplement the reinstatement of natural ventilation was deftly incorporated into the Avery design, with specialist input from Max Fordham.

Bryan worked on our scheme from 2001 to enable a successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. We worked intensely together to incorporate our vision of the new Museum and its narrative of transport shaping London, past, present and future, into the wonderfully located Flower Market. The tight space within demanded that every square foot worked for that vision. Bryan’s questioning of visitor flow and accessibility led to an optimal final design that has served the Museum very well since 2007, with visitor numbers rising from 210,000 to 400,000, and facilities for evening events, school visits, retail and cafe, promoting support from Transport for London,  funders, stakeholders and visitors. Bryan’s work has proved crucial to the Museum’s success, working within a range of constraints to create colour, light and movement within a historic structure.

The Museum’s former Assistant Director, Systems and Infrastructure, Rob Lansdown reminded me of how “when you talked to Bryan about space or form he was driven to pull out one of his blank index cards and a classic black Pentel Sign fibre-tipped pen (beloved of architects since the 1960s) and sketch his understanding for explanation and later reference”. His sketches of buildings and ideas were wonderfully concise and I hope plans for their exhibition and publication come to fruition.

Bryan remained a close friend of the Museum and had been consulted on our new Cafe extension project shortly before his death. We understand there is to be a memorial event in October.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/jul/06/bryan-avery-obituary

https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/tributes-paid-to-thinking-mans-architect-bryan-avery-1944-2017/10021390.article

Khadija Saye 1992 – 2017

khadija_1Two weeks ago the Learning team at London Transport Museum were waking up to the news of the fire in Grenfell Tower, and the realisation that one of our team lived in the tower and was now missing.

Khadija Saye joined the team in August 2016 as a Young Freelancer, a year-long post that offers support, training and paid opportunities for young people. The scheme aims to enable them to gain the knowledge, skills, and experience required for roles in art and cultural sectors. This is part of a wider programme of work with young Londoner’s funded by Arts Council England.

In our reflective practice sessions, Khadija talked with us about her life-journey, the challenges she faced, her art and her desire to work with and help people. Khadija worked on many projects in our Learning and Public Programmes teams, including using her amazing photography skills, giving tours, delivering events for families, supporting our pre-employment courses and engaging and supporting young people to become part of our apprentice programme. Khadija wanted to continuously learn, grow and develop and the paid opportunity allowed her to support the photography she was so talented and passionate about.

Khadija was all about people: whether assisting frantic set-up for a workshop, or guiding a participant on a course, caring for the elderly, or talking to a colleague struggling with work, Khadija was never short of time to listen. On meeting Khadija for the first time, her kindness shone through.  Extremely humble to the point where her discussion about being chosen to display work at the Venice Biennale came across, at first, as a small admin project!

khadija_2

Dhikshana, Khadija’s line manager

The last time I saw Khadija was just before she left for Venice, mapping her journey so far as part of a session reflecting as a Young Freelancer.  Charting worries, and things she needed to plan for, control and if possible contain; we ended knowing she would have many tales to tell us from Venice, how she took all these challenges head on and the great time she would have.

She would return and we would be in the final months of her time with us, seeing how far she came, having yet another string to her bow, and more people to add to her journey.  Khadija was returning to work alongside her peers to bring in our next set of Young Freelancers, sharing her journey and supporting and inspiring another group of young people. 

As I said goodbye to Khadija that day, I told her not to forget me when she reached the top and make sure I had VIP tickets to her exhibitions. She promised and with a naughty chuckle, she said she would make sure there was plenty of tea and cake for me.

Thank you, Khadija for being part of our team. We are so proud to have worked with you, we hope you learnt from us as much as we learnt from you.

Learning team
London Transport Museum