Saturday, 12 August 2017

George Barbier - The Birth of Art Deco

Georges Barbier was perhaps the most famous French illustrator of the 20th Century and a leader and influencer of the Art Deco movement.  His work has its own, readily identifiable style and is known for illustrating the fashions of the period.  His work however, extended well beyond the field of illustration.  He became famous for his costume designs for the theatre and ballet. Barbier illustrated books, designed wallpaper, fabrics,  jewellery and glass. he wrote numerous essays and magazine articles and designed costumes and sets for the Folies Bergere. Barbier was the leading member of a group of fashionable and flamboyant artists and designers who became known as "The Knights Of The Bracelet"
Georges Barbier died in 1932 at the age of 50. He was at the pinnacle of his career.

Barbier was born and grew up in Nantes in a prosperous and bourgeois family. His life in Paris was in marked contrast. Many of his friends and associates were from the Parisien homosexual society and he appears to have been disowned by his family. On his death, he was buried in Nantes, very discretely, and his family quickly forgot him.  His library was auctioned off and his collections of European and Asian erotica was donated to the Bibliotheque Nationale where it was stored in a section of works that might offend public decency.

Barbier and his work was quickly forgotten by the public and French society and it wasn't until 2007 that an exhibition of his work was shown in public "George Barbier - The Birth of Art Deco" at the Fortuny Museum in Venice.
L.Envie 1925
Les Fetes Galantes - 1928

Au Lido
Incantation. A flapper in coral and pink and a couple at the piano.

Canvas Wall Art
The Taste of Shawls. One of many of Barbier's works depicting lesbians
Imperial  Procession
One of Barbier's Vingt cinq costumes for the Paris theatre

La Belle Personne 1924

Au Revoir

Friday, 11 August 2017

Build your own Tardis

Fancy building your own Tardis ?  Here's a set of drawings to work from:


Or you might prefer a K2 phone box: 

The 19th Century Scottish Theatre

Large size poster made their appearance in the late 19th century following advances in printing techniques.  Theatres were quick to use this medium to publicise their shows. The posters attracted the public who would stop to study these attractive and colourful displays.

Below is a selection of posters promoting Edinburgh theatres of that period.

The Royal Lyceum Theatre was built in 1883 in Grindlay Street for Mr Howard and Mr Wyndham, two local theatrical managers who went on to found the famous company.  The theatre is now owned by Edinburgh Corporation and is Category A listed being in original condition.
The theatre is said to be haunted by the ghost of Ellen Terry, the famous actress who performed in the opening production

The Royal Princess Theatre opened in 1862 as a variety theatre called the New Royal Alhambra Music Hall. The name was changed in 1867. The building was demolished in 1912.

The Albert Hall was in Shandwick Place at the west end of Princess Street.  As a theatre, it seated 900 and mostly presented variety shows.  The building had originally been The Fine Arts Institute and later, a Methodist Mission. It was taken over in 1910, redecorated and opened as a cinema, a flickerless bioscope having been installed. It was later known as The West End Cinema but closed in 1932 and converted intohousing.


Sunday, 6 August 2017

John Bull

John Bull first appeared as a sunday newspaper in 1820. It continues in that format until  1892 after which it changed to a magazine format. At its peak, it had sales of 750,000 copies a week and it claimed to have the greatest circulation of any weekly journal in the world. The magazine was re-named Today, The New John Bull in 1960 and despite having a healthy circulation, advertsing revenues were poor and publication ceased in 1964.

The covers, similar in style to America's Saturday Evening Post were always bright and colourful, the work of some of Britains most talented illustrators. Among its features, John Bull often included short stories by well known authors including Agatha Christie, Nicholas Monsarrat, H.E.Bates, J.B.Priestley and C.S.Forester.

Below are a few of the covers, mostly from the 1950s.

There really is a Bash Street

Bash Street is in the centre of Dundee where a road has been named in honour of the comic strip from the Beano. Published in Dundee by D. C. Thompson, the comic has featured the Bash Street Kids every week since 1954.

Although the kids should be in their seventies by now, they are all just nine years of age. Class 2B of Bash Street School has just ten pupils who are taught by long suffering Teacher.  Most of them live in Bash Street Towers in Beanotown. 

Leader of the gang is Danny who established himself by giving the others a wine gum each.  Daniel Morgan hates school and is said to have the soul of a pirate. Being lazy, he doesn't do well at school but it is he who plans most of the gang's exploits.  Danny often gets the better of Dennis the Menace, a great rival from the Beano's companion comic strip.

Danny's second in command is Toots, the only girl in Class 2B. Sydney Kate Pye is a bit of a tomboy and is quite bossy. She has a crush on Dennis the Menace and has been known to send him a valentines card. Toots happens to be the twin sister of Sidney which is why of course they look and dress alike.

Sidney Pye likes to play tricks, especially on
Smiffy.  He often gets into fights with Spotty.
His sister Toots is his worst enemy as well as being his best friend.  Sidney likes all animals except for spiders but the favourite of all of his pets is Patrick the pigeon.

Smiffy or Aristotle Smith is said to be kind even though he cannot remember the colour of the sky. He keeps a pet pebble called Kevin and collects used raffle tickets.

Fatty's name really is Fatty Brown. He is of course always eating and is the only pupil able to stomach school cook Olive's food.
He's said to be good at gymnastics !

This is Erbert. Being extremely short sighted he suffers from all sorts of tricks played on him by his schoolmates. His poor sight leads to him suffering mishaps and often getting lost.  Herbert Henry Hoover's parents likewise have such bad eyesight that they are often unable to find their way around town. 

 Spotty is recognised, not only by his numerous spots but also by his extremely long school tie, his prize possession. James Cameron often interrupts lessons and is particularly good at starting arguments.

Wilfred Wimble is small and quiet and hides his thoughts behind his green jumper. Nobody has ever seen Wilfrid's neck other than his dad. He has a collection of magic tricks and can even make himself disappear.

Percival Proudfoot Plugsley is usually known simply as Plug. He thinks himself handsome although he did once faint on seeing his own reflection.  He is the only pupil to have had a girlfriend,  attracted by his devastating good looks. Plug lives in Gasworks Road with his sisters Plugella and Plugena and is the only pupil in Class 2B to live outside of Bash Street. 
Cuthbert Cringeworthy is detested by all. He is the brightest student, teachers pet and swat. He actually does his homework and wears the full school uniform. He would like to fit in and be like the others but he tells tales !

Teacher is never addressed by any other name although it was once revealed that he is called Algernon. He is married to the bossy Mrs Teacher and always grovels to the pompus headmaster, Headward Headington-Hail whom he refers to as Your Headship. Teacher's old car is still started by a crank handle.

The school caretaker is known as Janitor. He's lazy and hates students who break the rules. He likes to boss and take advantage of the school cat Winston. The cat however, is crafty and often gets the better of Janitor.

Now , if you would like to continue your education, you might visit the Beano website: or perhaps buy a copy.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

The Eagle's Famous Cut-away Drawings

Perhaps more of a boy's magazine than a comic, the Eagle launched in 1950 was enormously successful and the first issue sold almost a million copies. It was a high quality publication and besides its comic strips such as Dan Dare, it featured news and sport. 

As a centre page spread,  almost every issue featured a cut-away drawing. More than 900 of these were produced, over 600 by the artist Leslie Ashwell Wood. They featured a very broad range of subjects, all of  which were chosen to appeal to schoolboys of that era. These were mostly in full colour although in later years changes to the Eagle, saw these moved to the back page and printed in monochrome. 

These locomotives hauled Metropolitan Line trains between Baker Street and Rickmansworth.

The Vickers Viscount first flew in 1948. More than 400 were built. BEA operated the largest fleet.

The Routemaster bus was introduced in London in 1954

Cunard's Queen Elizabeth was in service between 1939 and 1968 sailing between Southampton and New York.

The Golden Arrow was the famous London to Paris express.

Behind the scenes at the theatre.