Apr 20 2012: Fifteen Colour Photographs from a Souvenir Volume Documenting Socialist Czechoslovakia (CSSR, c.1957)

A girl releases a dove in the name of ‘joy and beauty’. Clean, new buildings rise in historic cities. Athletes and dancers perform mass synchronised routines on a sports field. Gleaming motorcycles promote the latest in industrial design while the steelworks and plants that enabled their construction are dynamically photographed, the camera granting factories and … Continue reading

Apr 16 2012: Eight Kitsch Dream Images by Salvador Dali (Coronet Magazine, 1950)

Coronet magazine seems to have been, in format and approach, an attempt to imitate the success of Reader’s Digest. In among its pages of amusing anecdotes, abridged stories and other human interest material fairly typical of its time, however, are some intriguing advertisements and a definite curveball, given the journal’s otherwise rather conservative idiom, in … Continue reading

Apr 12 2012: A Portrait of Harry Wheatcroft (Illustration on Celluloid for an Unknown Magazine, 1970s)

A curious item, this image reproduces as best I can the image on a reddish-tinted celluloid sheet containing a photographic transfer of a watercolour portrait of Harry Wheatcroft, the Nottingham-born celebrity horticulturalist and 70s media entrepreneur whose name became synonymous with commercial rose-growing, and whose garden centre, Wheatcrofts, still trades on the edge of the … Continue reading

Mar 3 2012: A Gallery of Twenty-Nine Postcard Collages and Portraits (i.m. Wislawa Szymborska, 1923 – 2012)

When I heard news of the death of Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska on the 1st February 2012 it can’t have been too much of a surprise, given her advanced years and the presence of a cigarette in pretty much every photograph I’d ever seen of her. But, in an irony she’d perhaps have appreciated, a … Continue reading

The Invisible Hand, Pupaphobia and the Puppet State (NVA 11, 2013)

“The puppet is what best represents the position of man in today’s manipulated world. The hand of a puppeteer is always the hand of one who ‘leads’, the hand of the Great Manipulator. The puppet’s immobile expression, its inability to mimic, does not allow it to communicate the subtle oscillations of the soul, but it … Continue reading

Feb 19 2012: Washing Powder: from Larry Harmon’s Laurel and Hardy Comic (DC Comics, 1960s)

There’s a curiously tangled story of image licensing behind the seemingly straightforward cash-in comic book on display here since even a decade or two after their cinema heyday (and the death of Oliver Hardy) the currency of the comic duo was still clearly sufficient to justify a fairly impressive range of tie-in products. Conscious of this, according … Continue reading

Feb 14 2012: Illustrations by Gisela Gottschlich from Die Schonsten Grimms Marchen (Germany, 1960s)

It’s no surprise these days to find monographs on the work of nineteenth and early twentieth century illustrators like John Tenniel, Beatrix Potter, Gustave Dore and Edmund Dulac, but for later practioners the process of recognition seems slow. A case in point might be the book represented here, on which the name of the illustrator is … Continue reading

Jan 21 2012: A Fragment from a Potential Bacterial Alphabet (Principles of Biology, c.1938)

Somehow, I suspect it will continue to be a source of great disappointment that this set of illustrations showing different kinds of bacteria didn’t continue beyond the letter ‘i’ and run to a full 26 figures for quite some time. The calligraphic quality gives each individual image in this grid the potential to be read as a letter-form … Continue reading

Jan 19 2012: Twelve Advertisements for Childrens’ Products (from Family Doctor Magazine, 1961 – 1964)

These adverts for childrens’ products – mainly clothing, but also featuring Ovaltine, Cow & Gate baby-foods and two different makes of pram, Pedigree and Ballerina – are taken from various issues of Family Doctor magazine, a popular publication produced by the British Medical Association that features accessible articles by GPs on preventative hygiene, and such topics as … Continue reading

Jan 11 2012: Twenty-One Cover Illustrations from Romeo Teen Weekly (1970 – 1971)

I don’t know much about Romeo, a comic format weekly magazine published by D.C. Thompson that features a variety of love stories (basically, think Mills & Boon, but aimed very much at teenage girls), letters and problem pages, adverts, comic strips and a few bits of pop music news (these include some unlikely inclusions from … Continue reading