Friday 3 May 2013

Festival of Britain - part 2

For background information on the Festival of Britain (1951) see part 1 of this post. Part 2 takes a look at the unusual and innovative approach the Festival designers took with regard to contemporary textiles.

© James Templeton and Co

Twenty-eight leading manufacturers took part in the Festival of Britain's Festival Pattern Group, which used diagrams of atomic structure to provide design inspiration; a unique project involving X-ray crystallographers, designers and manufacturers. 80 designs were produced in all, including glass, ceramics, metal, plastics, textiles and wallpaper. 

© James Templeton and Co
By studying X-ray diffraction photographs of crystals, scientists could calculate the arrangement of atoms within molecules. The resulting diagrams provided the inspiration for the Festival Pattern Group, highlighting the intricacy and beauty of crystal structures. These avante-garde designs stand as a testament to the optimism of the early post-war era and the vibrancy of 1950s design.

'Copper Aluminium Alloy' 
© James Templeton and Co 

The Fabrics:
ample booklets containing tie fabrics were also on display at the Festival of Britain. All were made of jacquard-woven silk and designed by George Reynolds for Vanners and Fennel, a specialist in fabric for ties and cravats. The company entered spiritedly into the Festival Pattern Group, creating seven crystal structure designs. 

From a commercial point of view, Vanners and Fennell's jacquard-woven silk ties were one of the successful products in the Festival Pattern Group. One of the few companies still in operation today, Vanners (as they are now known) continue to specialise in jacquard-woven tie silks.

Tie fabrics designed by George Reynolds for Vanners and Fennel 
© V&A
Nylon 8.54c wallpaper ('Cherwell'). 
Although not used at the Festival of Britain, this screen-printed wallpaper features the crystal structure of nylon and was created as part of the Festival Pattern Group. This piece is from the manufacturer's sample book, hence the annotations. The fact that it was given a pattern name - 'Cherwell' - indicates that it was intended for production.

'Nylon 8.54c wallpaper (Cherwell)' Crystallographer, Charles William Bunn 
Designed by William Odell for John Line and Sons 
© John Line and Sons

Boric Acid 8.34 Wallpaper:
This screen-printed wallpaper was designed by William Odell for John Line and Sons.

Boric Acid 8.34 Wallpaper © John Line and Sons

Insulin 8.25 Wallpaper: 
Crystallographer: Dorothy Hodgkin; designed by Robert Sevant for John Line and Sons. Dorothy Hodgkin's diagram, on which this screen-printed wallpaper is based, was originally published in an article in 'Proceedings of the Royal Society' in 1938. The designer has simplified the pattern by extracting the hexagonal motifs and omitting the rounded triangular forms. This wallpaper was used in the Cinema Foyer at the Exhibition of Science in 1951 and has been re-created for this exhibition.

Insulin 8.25 Wallpaper 
© John Line and Sons
Insulin 8.25 Wallpaper 
© John Line and Sons © V&A

Apophyllite 8.3) Lace: 
This machine-embroidered cotton lace was manufactured by A. C. Gill. 

Apophyllite 8.30 Lace 
© A. C. Gill

Quartz 8.10 Carpet: 
By Glasgow-based carpet manufacturers, James Templeton.

Quartz 8.10 Carpet 
© James Templeton

 Other textiles from the Festival:

Copper Aluminium Alloy 
© James Templeton & Co

© James Templeton & Co

© James Templeton & Co

© James Templeton & Co

© James Templeton & Co

© James Templeton & Co

© James Templeton & Co

Insulin 8.27 wallpaper 
© V&A

© James Templeton & Co

© James Templeton & Co

© James Templeton & Co

'Myoglobin 8.46g vynides' nitrocellulose-coated upholstery fabric 
© V&A

Afwillite 8.45 dress fabric 
© V&A

Horse methaemoglobin 8.23 
dress fabrics

©James Templeton & Co

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Festival of Britain 1951 - part 1

The Festival of Britain was a national exhibition held throughout the United Kingdom in the summer of 1951. This also happened to be the same year they celebrated the centenary, almost to the day, of the 1851 Great Exhibition.

In keeping with the principles of the Festival, a young architect aged only 38, Hugh Casson, was appointed Director of Architecture for the Festival and to appoint other young architects to design its buildings. The main site featured the largest dome in the world at the time, standing 93 feet tall with a diameter of 365 feet. This held exhibitions on the theme of discovery such as the New World, the Polar regions, the Sea, the Sky and Outer Space.

Adjacent to the Dome was the Skylon, an unusual, vertical cigar-shaped tower supported by cables that gave the impression hat it was floating above the ground.

Logo designed by Abram Games
In 1948, two years after being de-mobbed, ‘Official War Poster Artist’, Abram Games (1914-1996), won the competition to design the symbol for the Festival of Britain. His ‘Britannia’ emblem was ubiquitous, versatile and memorable. This was to be a significant event in his six-decade career, establishing him as one of twentieth century Britain’s most respected graphic designers.

Poster designed by Abram Games

Guide priced at two shillings and sixpence ( 12 ½ p )

Guide to Festval ship Campania 
price two shillings ( 10p )

A leaflet

Guide to the Pleasure Gardens in Battersea Park

Guide to the Exhibition of Science in South Kensington

The same design used on regional  guides - 'Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham'

2 1/2 penny Commemorative stamp featuring Britannia and King George VI

4 penny Commemorative stamp featuring Abram Games' logo and King George VI

Festival of Britain first day cover

Festival of Britain first day cover

Transport Information poster

Pre-Festival publicity

Souvenir programme for the opening of the Royal Festival Hall

Poster for the Festival Pleasure Gardens in Battersea Park

Programme for Festival in the London Borough of Camberwell

Programme for the Festival in Southampton

Poster for the Festival in Liverpool

Festival of Britain typeface designed by Phillip Boydell 1951

Guide, Programme and Calendar, showing the Festival Star Motif by Abram Games
Illustrations by Eric Fraser

Festival Exhibtion at the Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh

Patons and Baldwins Festival Knitting Book front cover

Patons and Baldwins Festival Knitting Book back cover

Festival of Britain Print by Herbert Williams 

Souvenir glass ashtray and enamel badge from my own collection

Designer Paul Smith limited edition Festival of Britain watch design 
© Paul Smith

Part 2 of this post takes a look at the Festival textiles.