With the Olympics drawing to a close this weekend, pride in national achievement seems to be at an all-time high. Even those of us who have very little interest in sport have been swept up in the excitement! And though these games have officially been associated with London, it's been a pleasure to see the many facets of Britain and Britishness reflected in the opening ceremony, and then in the competitors and the various venues.
Life in an English Village
Edward Bawden & Noel Carrington, 1949
(Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, JMR772)
With this in mind, it seems a good moment to reflect on just what exactly ‘British-ness’ means. MoDA’s new online exhibition Illustration Nation, explores the many ways in which Britain was depicted on book covers in the middle of the twentieth century. From Britain at war to Britain at peace, and from transport systems to the seaside, the exhibition shows how the iconic images of Britain and British-ness were both used and subverted by the books’ designers.
Early British Railways, Christian Barman, 1950
(Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, JMR 634)
This online exhibition opens up an area of our collections which has been under-researched until now. But whereas some research might focus on the contents of books like these, this project considered the books’ appearance as designed objects.
This is the first of several online exhibitions featuring books from MoDA’s collections. We’ll be rolling out another one later in the year, so watch this space!