Thursday, 2 April 2009
The Festival of Britain. A monument to Britain's achievements and a reinforcement of its strengths, traditions, manufacturing, craft, design and progressive innovations after the war. A chance to celebrate and remember who we were and what we were good at, after taking a battering. This film was sponsored by the Central Office of Information of the government and endorsed by the Crown. The above brochure cover for the festival is by Abram Games, a noted Graphic Designer of the times. He produced strikingly iconic work for such things as London Underground walls, book covers, propaganda and public information posters, and stamps. He was the Official War Artist during the second world war and produced around 100 posters during that time. Therefore the perfect designer for the task of the festival brochure. See more of his work here, and here.
See another documentary retrospective of the festival here. More honest, not such a propagandist film like the above, more a fascinating and evocative visual essay, produced by The Observer newspaper group (but also sponsored by the Central Office of Information of the government), on the dynamic designs and ethos of the festival, and the state of the nation at the time.
The legacy of the festival is of course abundantly clear on the South Bank now with the original Royal Festival Hall building from the time still there, and the creative and innovative ethos still perpetuated in the exhibitions, performances, architecture and environmental designs and visuals. This demonstrates the lasting power of bold statements.
Then there was the Dome...
Widely considered to be a poor imitation of the aims of the Festival of Britain with less substance and clarity, but perhaps hampered by the somewhat less tangible industries that Britain was then known for in more abundance than the manufacturing and craft based industries of the 1950s, and the less distinct identity of the nation as a whole. Its legacy is less determinate as a result.