Four thousand images from the Design Council Slide Collection have been launched online today, providing a unique insight into the history of British design and its promotion by the UK government from the 1940s to the early 1990s.
‘Bond Bug’ three-wheeler car made by the Reliant Motor Co. Designed by Tom Karen of Ogle
Design and launched in 1970 © The Design Council/The Manchester Metropolitan University
The Design Council was established in 1944 and is the UK’s national strategic body for design. The images relate closely to the changing scope and policies of the Council over a period of almost fifty years, providing valuable visual evidence of the ways in which design has been evaluated and promoted throughout this period.
They show a wide variety of products such as tableware, furniture, lighting, toys, domestic appliances, textiles, wallpapers, office equipment, engineering components and machinery, as well as other areas of design such as architecture, town planning, interior design, graphic design and corporate identity.
The collection also contains many unique images that record the Council’s own activities and initiatives, such as its annual award scheme and the exhibitions it organised or contributed to in the UK and abroad, including ‘Britain Can Make It’ and the ‘Festival of Britain’.
Box-office computer system for theatres and performance venues, manufactured by Space-Time Systems Ltd., and winner of a Design Council Award for computer software in 1986. © The Design Council/The Manchester Metropolitan University
An illustrated online guide to the collection has also been launched today. The guide aims to indicate the strengths of the collection, enabling users to exploit it more fully as a resource for learning and research.
‘The collection is an incredibly rich resource for anyone interested in design’ says David Kester, Chief Executive of the Design Council. ‘In particular, it demonstrates the Design Council’s long track record of promoting the use of design to strengthen the UK’s economy and improve society.’
The slide collection was transferred to the Manchester Metropolitan University in 1995, and since then a series of digitisation projects have resulted in over 13,000 images (nearly two-thirds of the collection) being made available online through the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS).
The expansion of the Design Council Slide Collection on VADS is one feature of the new collections and enriched website that has been funded by JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) as part of its pioneering digitisation programme. JISC Digitisation Programme Officer, Ben Showers, said:
“JISC’s investment in enriching digital resources is a real commitment to preserving resources for the use of generations to come. VADS is an exciting and hugely important collection of unique and valuable images, and the enhancement of the website will makes these resources even more accessible for teachers, researchers and students across the creative arts.”
Action Man plus spare clothing. 1979 Design Index item. Manufactured by Pailitoy © The Design Council/The Manchester Metropolitan University
See the Design Council Slide Collection and the online guide at:
See all of the VADS collections at: http://www.vads.ac.uk and visit the Design Council’s website at www.designcouncil.org.uk
The Design Council Slide Collection digitisation project was also supported with funding from the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council).
Photographs of chalk lettering on blackboard by Edward Johnston © Central Saint Martins Museum & Study Collection
In 1899 Edward Johnston was invited by William Lethaby, the first principal of the Central School of Arts and Crafts, to start a class on Writing and Illumination. He was described by those he taught as an influential and inspirational teacher – high praise from such noteworthy students as Eric Gill, Noel Rooke and Graily Hewitt (and it would be Hewitt who took over the class when Johnston moved to the RCA in 1912). Johnston is probably best remembered for the work he did for the London Underground. His typeface Railway remains in use and his bar and circle symbol, an early experiment in corporate identity, is still a familiar sight in London today. However, his book Writing and Illumination & Lettering was recognised as a seminal work when it was published in 1906 and his classes were almost singlehandedly responsible for the revival of calligraphy in this country.
These photographs were taken by Violet Hawkins, one of Johnston’s students, and show some of the blackboards created by him for his classes at the Royal College of Art and Central School of Arts and Crafts. A close look at the photographs reveals no trace of ruled guidelines, suggesting that Johnston created these amazing letters entirely freehand. Sets of these photographs can be seen at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, the National Art Library and the Crafts Study Centre.
Text by Judy Lindsay, Head of Museum & Contemporary Collections, Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design
VADS is featured in the latest issue of A’N'D, the magazine for art and design teachers published by the National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD).
Images from VADS have been used in a series of events marking the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Procession along Princes Street in Edinburgh. The culmination of this celebration will be a re-enactment of the march through the streets of the city on 10th October 2009.
Photographic Postcard Of Women With Edinburgh Banner from Mary Lowndes Album, 1908 © Public domain. Right of reproduction held by London Metropolitan University
The Gude Cause Project has used images of suffrage banners on VADS in an exhibition at the launch of the project, which was held at the Scottish Parliament in October 2008. The images have also been used at various events in different parts of Edinburgh and Glasgow where members of the Gude Cause committee have spoken to local community groups about the project.
North Berwick Banner Design, 1907-1922 © Public domain. Right of reproduction held by London Metropolitan University
The suffrage banner collection available on VADS is from the Women’s Library at London Metropolitan University. The Library houses an important collection of early twentieth century suffrage banners, many designed and created by the artist based suffrage organisations the Artist’s Suffrage League and the Suffrage Atelier. The Library’s entire collection of suffrage banners, along with associated artwork, has been digitised and is available for research on VADS’ searchable database.
The Gude Cause project is being organised by the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre. For more information, see: http://www.gudecause.org.uk
Members of the VADS team attended the Art Libraries Society Conference in Cambridge last week and presented a workshop on the ‘Enhancing VADS’ project at the project showcase event on 16 July. The conference was held at Clare College in Cambridge and took as its theme ‘Tradition & Transformation: roles in a changing world’.
A set of posters and postcards are now available which showcase the thousands of digital images that are available online and free for educational use.
The new publicity material showcases the richness and breadth of the VADS image collections – from a brightly coloured quilt created by the Cuna tribe of the San Blas Islands in Panama, to the famous ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster of the Second World War, which was intended for display only in times of crisis or invasion.
The publicity material is available freely to universities, colleges, schools and libraries across the UK. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01252 892723 to request copies.
You can also download the poster directly from the VADS website, at: vads.ac.uk/publicity
VADS Director Leigh Garrett led a workshop about the Visual Arts Data Service at this week’s Creative Practice Learning and Teaching day, organised by the Higher Education Academy’s Art, Design and Media Subject Centre. The workshop posed the question “why do we do it?” and looked at the case for digitisation in the arts and how we effectively engage and promote the use of digital images within learning, teaching and research.
The conference held at Southampton Solent University on 9 July, covered a broad spectrum of issues and concerns across the art, design and media sector with innovation and creativity as the overarching theme.
Illustrations from the Woolmark Company Archive on VADS will be featured in a forthcoming book Sharp Suits by fashion journalist Eric Musgrave, which examines the fascinating history of the evolution of the modern suit from the days of 19th century bespoke to the mass industrialisation of the early part of the 20th century.
Two suits by Hector Powe, 1964 © London College of Fashion/The Woolmark Company
The International Wool Secretariat, now The Woolmark Company, was established in 1937 to undertake research and the global promotion of wool. To that end, they built up a large library of promotional photographs and accompanying press releases which they generously donated to the London College of Fashion. The two thousand or so black and white photographs date from the 1940′s through to the early 1980′s and capture both the fashion of the time and the style of photography.
Cricketeer creates for the man about town a single breasted suit of blue merino wool, 1970 © London College of Fashion/The Woolmark Company
Man-on -the-move wears crisp credentials, suit by Hart Schaffner & Marx, 1964 © London College of Fashion/The Woolmark Company
Images from the Woolmark Company Archive and the London College of Fashion College Archive will be used this year in a number of publications, including Developing a Collection written by Elinor and Colin Renfrew, and a publication by James Sherwood on bespoke tailoring, to be published by Thames and Hudson.
Tom Eckersley is one of the foremost British poster designers and graphic communicators of the twentieth century. From the ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ campaign to advertisements for Gillette and Guinness, VADS is pleased to announce that a further 100 images from the designer’s archives have now been made publically available online.
Keep Britain Tidy Campaign poster by Tom Eckersley, 1963 © Ministry of Housing and Local Government
Eckersley used bold simple designs, coupled with memorable slogans, for iconic brands such as Guinness; General Post Office; British Railways; London Transport; and Gillette. Eckersley was also a teacher of poster arts and established the first graphic design course in Britain at the London School/College of Printing (now College of Communication, part of University of the Arts London).
Gillette advert for razor blades by Tom Eckersley © Gillette
‘Lovely day for a GUINNESS’ by Tom Eckersley © Diagio
This latest addition also includes a number of Eckersley’s artworks as well as other printed items. His artworks allow us to see how he created his images and developed his style from realistic portraits to paper collages. His 1930s and 1940s work is reflected in these early drawings, with light colouring that appears sprayed on as opposed to his later artworks that are so reminiscent of his designs from the 1950s onwards which use block colours.
Pen drawing of Mary [Eckersley's wife] by Tom Eckersley © Eckersley Estate
The non-poster printed items show his versatility as a designer, being as he is primarily known for his poster art. Featured are such diverse items as newspaper illustrations in the expressionist style to light-hearted party invites featuring multi-coloured animals and motifs. These items include works created in partnership with Eric Lombers, Eckersley’s design partner before World War Two.
The collection was formed by Eckersley and is held at the University of the Arts London Archives and Special Collections Centre.
Tiger card by Tom Eckersley, 1982-3 © University of the Arts London
The archive has been digitised by the University of the Arts London and made available online through the ‘Enhancing VADS’ project, funded as part of the Enriching Digital Resources programme from JISC.
For more information and to search and browse the collection, please see the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS) website at: http://www.vads.ac.uk/collections/TEC
Wheelwright © Bodleian Library, University of Oxford: John Johnson Collection
The VADS website has been used in research this month for the History e-Learning Project led by Kingston University in partnership with The London Grid for Learning. The project is developing a history online learning resource for primary schools. Pupils will be able to reinforce curriculum requirements by looking at the ‘Victorians’ and comparing how they lived then to how we live now.
The project has chosen this image to use as a colourful illustration of a wheelwright, for 7-11 year olds, because the vast majority of them will not have come into contact with anyone working in this profession. Dr Heidi Topman, researcher for the Project said, “I chose this image because it is one of the few good quality images of a wheelwright, which I’ve managed to locate. The cartoon like, colourful nature, of the picture will also appeal to children.”
The Visual Arts Data Service (VADS) and the London College of Fashion announced a collaboration today that will see the photographic archives of three important cosmetics companies made accessible online for the first time.
Gala Lip Line lipstick. © London College of Fashion
The archives of Gala, Miner’s and Crystal, three prominent cosmetics companies operating during and after the Second World War, are held at London College of Fashion and have been digitised and made freely accessible through the VADS website.
The archives are a valuable resource for the study of the history of cosmetics, advertising photography, fashion promotion and women in the Second World War.
During the War when silk was needed for parachutes and stockings disappeared from the shops, Miner’s had particular success with its leg make-up, Miners Liquid Stockings, which many women used to paint their legs and even drew black lines down the back of their legs to simulate the seams. Gala of London was also the first company to introduce lip stick in a tube when they introduced their Lip Line in 1957.
Model drawing a seam line down her leg with Miner’s seam stick, 1941. © London College of Fashion
Showcard for Miner’s Liquid Stockings alongside bottle of Miner’s Liquid Stockings in shade of Grape Mist, 1941 © London College of Fashion
Katherine Baird, Manager of Archives and Special Collections at the London College of Fashion said: “The history of cosmetics is a subject area poorly served by archives to date, and this archive is a valuable addition.”
“The war and immediate aftermath, was an important period for the development of package design and also for the development of women’s economic independence and consequently their image. The photographs in this collection provide a rich resource charting the development of designs and promotion of cosmetic products and images of women using them.”
Leigh Garrett, Director of VADS, said “We are delighted to have worked with London College of Fashion to make these unique archives accessible to a wider learning community than ever before.”
“Through our partnerships with university and museum collections across the UK, VADS has already made a wide range of visual arts image collections available online freely for educational use. This latest project will bring another valuable collection to wider recognition and use by scholars, researchers and students as well as members of the public.”
The three cosmetics archives have been digitised by the London College of Fashion and made available online through the ‘Enhancing VADS’ project, funded as part of the Enriching Digital Resources programme from JISC.
The collection is available at http://www.vads.ac.uk/collections/LCFGALA
The Paper Patterns Collection on VADS was recently used by MA Fashion Curation students at London College of Fashion for Occupying Spaces: The White Dress Project, exhibited at the Carnaby Gallery. The collection was used to source a pattern which was then reproduced to make 12 identical white dresses, which were each displayed in different ways. The intention of the project was to reveal how context and meaning are inextricably entwined.
Simplicity Pattern 1969. © London College of Fashion
The project team says “This particular design was selected as, to our eyes, it resonated with 1960s Carnaby Street fashion, whilst its very neutrality could simultaneously be situated within international contexts. Although archival records document the pattern as being in poor condition, some 40 years later it still served its original function. The pattern envelope features five illustrations indicating how this one design can achieve five – of possibly endless – distinctive ‘looks’ and could serve as a metaphor for the curatorial dilemma.”
The VADS website has been used in research for a new exhibition Super Contemporary which opened at the Design Museum in London last week. Super Contemporary celebrates the creative magnetism of London and its enduring reputation as a beacon of design, and showcases 12 new commissions from designers such as Paul Smith.
The exhibition also includes a timeline of London’s design history from the 1960s to the present day, charting the city’s defining creative moments in architecture, fashion, product design and communication. It features a number of design classics available on the VADS site, including work from the Tom Eckersley Collection held at University of the Arts London.
Concorde poster by Tom Eckersley, 1976. © BAA. The design was reproduced on a wall at Heathrow Central Airport.
Kenneth Grange’s Brownie Vecta has also been included as an innovative approach to camera design – its vertical format was, and still is, unusual in its approach. Grange noticed that most amateur photography tended to be of people rather than landscapes, and he felt that the vertical format was better suited for portraiture.
Brownie Vecta’ camera made by Kodak Ltd. and designed in consultation with Kenneth Grange © Design Council Slide Collection
Other notable products of the era featured in the exhibition include Robin Day’s polypropylene chair, which is one of the very few chairs still in production after over 40 years, and Peter Murdoch’s fibreboard chair.
The exhibition runs until 4 October 2009 at the Design Museum in London.
Polypropylene chair, Hille International, designed by Robin Day © Frederick Parker Foundation
‘Those Things’ childrens table, chair and stool in fibreboard, designed by Peter Murdoch © Design Council Slide Collection
Song of the perfect cure, music cover by Concanen & Lee, showing performer J H Stead, 1861 © Reading University Library
This Victorian music cover portrays the performer James Henry Stead in the song which he made famous. Stead’s performance of the song with its accompanying dance was extraordinary. He was really a dancer, and after singing the verse and chorus, he would leap up and down over 400 times with both feet at once. According to ‘Household Words’, a contemporary magazine, Stead could actually perform this jump an astonishing 1,600 times in succession.
The original lithographic music cover was printed in three colours. The costume consisted of plain red and white vertical stripes with the usual brownish lithotint background. The design was very simple, and yet very striking. The stark figure of Stead suspended in mid-air rivets the attention of the viewer, and the conical hat makes Stead appear ten feet tall.
During his short career Stead, like so many music-hall artistes, appeared at three or four theatres in one evening, performing the same act at each. This must have required superhuman physical endurance for Stead. The song was advertised as ‘sung for upwards of nine hundred nights with unbounded success’ at Weston’s Music Hall in Holborn, London. For a short time Stead achieved great fame with his performance of ‘Song of the Perfect Cure’, but his reputation dwindled into obscurity soon afterwards, and in 1886 he died in an attic a poor man.
This music cover was produced in 1861 by the prolific lithographer Alfred Concanen (1835-1886) who portrayed many figures of the Victorian theatre and the London streets in his music cover work, capturing the liveliness and eccentricity of the mid-Victorian theatre and music-hall scene for posterity.
Text by Fiona Melhuish, Rare Books Librarian, Special Collections Services, University of Reading.
View the Spellman Collection of Victorian Music Covers
The VADS image collections have been contributed to the service by a number of expert curators, museum managers, librarians, and archivists based at universities and arts institutions across the UK. These expert curators have begun sharing some of the fruits of their research on the VADS blog. Curators’ Choice is a new feature on the blog which will provide fascinating insights into the history and context of items from the VADS collections.
In conjunction with the Curators’ Choice, VADS will be launching ‘Your Pick’, which will showcase images that you are using in research, publications, exhibitions, or other projects. We would like to hear from you about the ways in which you are using the VADS site – tell us at email@example.com or 01252 892723.
A collection of decorated books from the London College of Communication Library, University of the Arts London, has been launched online this week by the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS).
The collection of Dutch decorated books provides primary source material for bookbinding research and is also of use to graphic design and typographical researchers. The collection includes bindings in the Nieuwe Kunst and Art Nouveau styles by artists such as Jozef Cantre, Jan Toorop, and P.A.H. Hofman.
Pscyhe, Louis Couperus, design: Jan Toorop © University of the Arts London, London College of Communication
The collection includes a Dutch translation of a collection of the writings of poet and designer William Morris (1834-1896), and this is the first binding work of designer and typographer Sjoerd Hendrik De Roos (1877-1962), who was inspired by the Arts and Craft movement, of which Morris was a leading figure.
Kunst en maatschappij /Art and Society, William Morris, design: Sjoerd H. de Roos © University of the Arts London, London College of Communication
There are several titles by Arthur van Schendel (1874-1946) the Dutch novelist and short-story writer, who produced some of the greatest novels of his period.
Pieter Adriaan Hendrik Hofman (1885-1965) was a Dutch book binder and designer of many medias. His work represents a seminal period in book art, combining the sensibilities of the Art Nouveau movement with those of the Bauhaus. His work therefore represents a design bridge which stylistically links the oldest and newest titles of the collection.
Heer Halewijn, Nico Rost, design: P. A. H. Hofman © University of the Arts London, London College of Communication
The collection is a celebration of the book, both for their contents and covers, and informs us of an important point in the development of book design. For more information and to view all the images from the collection, see http://www.vads.ac.uk/collections/NDB
The Visual Arts Data Service (VADS) provides a central resource of over 100,000 high quality digital images, which are copyright cleared and completely FREE for use in UK education.
VADS is working on an exciting project to enhance the online image archive and we would like to hear from YOU! – tell us what you think about the VADS site and help us to ensure that the service meets your needs by completing our short online survey at: http://www.vads.ac.uk/feedback
The survey will take just a few minutes to complete and will be available online until 3 April.
The Peter King Archive has now been extended to include over 1000 entries giving a detailed picture of the life and work of the artist.
King’s untimely death at the age of twenty-nine has meant that he has been largely omitted from the history of 1950s British art. His work has now been made available to a wider audience through a digitising project carried out by the artist’s son, Dr Mike King, at London Metropolitan University, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
Standing Figure by Peter King, 1950s © Estate of Peter King
King was undoubtedly a prolific artist whose exceptional talent was recognised by Henry Moore, who appointed him as his assistant along with Anthony Caro. He was part of a group of artists associated with Moore’s studio, with the teaching team at St Martin’s School of Art, with artists living at the Abbey Art Centre in London, and with Victor Musgrave’s Gallery One in Soho. He received the Boise Travelling Scholarship and funding from the BFI for an animated film, and exhibited the film and his work across Europe.
Black, yellow, red, white head on buff background by Peter King, 1950s © Estate of Peter King
The full digital archive is now available on VADS and includes examples of Peter King’s sculptures in a wide variety of materials as well as his works on paper, film puppets, and memorabilia.
VADS is to upgrade its online image archive after securing funding for a one year project from JISC – a joint committee of the UK further and higher education funding bodies.
VADS is based at the Farnham Campus of the University for the Creative Arts, where it has recently attained research centre status within the library. It was founded to provide services to the academic community 11 years ago, and since that time it has built an online collection of more than 100,000 images which are copyright cleared for teaching, learning, and research in the UK.
Yellow and brown slipware soup bowls, Michael Cardew © Managed by the Crafts Study Centre
Some three hundred educational institutions and museums have contributed to the VADS collection since its inception, including UCA’s own Textiles and Fine Art Departments and the Crafts Study Centre.
St Tropez, Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1898-1900 © Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
The JISC funding will allow VADS to enhance the online archive, improve image searching, undertake user and evaluation studies and to promote the archive’s use in teaching, learning and research.
Rosemary Lynch, Head of Library and Learning Services at UCA, said: “This funding highlights the valuable contribution that VADS makes to the higher education community and to creative arts practitioners. It comes at an exciting time for VADS, which has recently become integrated into UCA as a research centre – the first to be based in the university library.
UCA has hosted VADS for 11 years and is delighted to support VADS’ ambition to be a leading centre in the research and development of digital knowledge management in the creative arts.”
The VADS image library can be viewed at www.vads.ac.uk
Trouser suit by Christian Dior, 1968 © London College of Fashion/The Woolmark Company