Friday, 10 April 2015

Bringing You Better Living

MoDA's Collections Assistant Jacqueline Winston-Silk @_jsws discusses the new exhibition at The Hasler Gallery.

Bringing You Better Living is a site-specific installation at Ten Grand Arcade by Aviva Leeman. The work is inspired by the Charles Hasler collection at MoDA.

Now open at The Hasler Gallery, the commission is a collaborative project which was informed by the site and character of the gallery itself. The Hasler Gallery is located in a retail unit in a 1930’s arcade – an architectural construct in the history of the development of modern shopping.

Bringing You Better Living at The Hasler Gallery. Photo courtesy of Aviva Leeman. 

View of the Grand Arcade, 1980. Courtesy of the Friern Barnet & District Local History Society. Photographer Doug Rose.

The Charles Hasler Collection at MoDA

The project was born out of an investigation into language during developments in the retail industry. Aviva’s research focused on publications of the time - in particular Shelf Appeal (1934-38), a trade magazine for the emerging packaging industry, as well as contemporaneous printed advertisements. Aviva also consulted Charles Hasler’s specimens of display letters produced for the Festival of Britain

CH/5/2/5, Shelf Appeal magazine October 1935.

CH/5/2/5 Shelf Appeal April 1938

Shelf Appeal was a magazine aimed at the newly emerging professional designers of packaging and promotional material. It considered typography, illustration and graphics to explore how products (especially in new materials such as plastics, Bakelite, aluminium etc.) might be marketed to consumers through the development of a ‘brand image’.

MJ174, Detail of advertisements in Homes and Gardens magazine, June 1951. 

Examples of advertisements from Homes and Gardens magazine, similar to the items consulted at MoDA. The aesthetic and language of the period advertising is interrogated in Aviva's installation. 

CH/1/1 specimen of display letters.


Charles Hasler was chairman of the Typography Panel of the Festival of Britain. This Panel oversaw the visual identity of the exhibition.  It drew up specimens of display letters, and developed guidelines on how the logo should be used on Festival-related publications and publicity.

The installation at The Hasler Gallery

Aviva Leeman, The Silent Salesman, 2015. Photo courtesy of Aviva Leeman. 

The Silent Salesman lays bare product packaging and the display system as sites and channels of communication in the context of the shop. The texts are extracted from industry adverts aimed at designers and manufacturers, extolling the abilities of the new packaging materials and technologies to sell. Between the wars, the package, shelf and counter display became objects of intense imaginative interest, the bearers of a new commercial aesthetic, and the language used reveals the optimism felt.

Aviva Leeman, We Women All Agree, 2015. Photo courtesy of Aviva Leeman. 

We Women All Agree is a suspended window display of women’s heads gathered together from magazine advertisements from the 1930s – 1950s, reworked and scaled-up to life-size. The cut-out aesthetic recalls early window displays but also comments on how the dimensionality of how the shopper, typically the housewife, was imagined in the early days of retail psychology, and which to some extent prevails today. To the left is a key identifying each character by an extract from the advert in which they featured, in many cases an attribute that could interchangeably apply to the product being promoted or the woman presented as an embodiment of the brand.

Exhibition3rd April - 30th April 2015

Gallery Opening times:
Thursday & Friday 12-6pm
Saturday 12-4pm
Or by appointment:


Address: The Hasler Gallery, Grand Arcade, North Finchley, N12 0EH

Aviva Leeman trained in Graphic Design and Visual Communication and has practiced as an installation artist since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2002. She has shown work and developed commissions for galleries and non-gallery contexts including the Museum of St Albans, Hatfield House, Battersea Pump House Gallery, Aldgate Station, County Hall, the Royal Festival Hall and Norwich Castle Museum. A local resident since 2010, she recently completed a commission to celebrate the tenth anniversary of artsdepot. She has worked on residencies for community organizations and schools, and also runs a fledgling press, designing and producing bespoke short-run letterpress. Aviva is currently researching a PhD at Central Saint Martins on how the materiality of text affects our construction of meaning.

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