Art Deco & Sea

By Mohini Babbar

Art is a diverse artifact of human activity; with the creation of visuals, auditory, an expression of creativity, and emotions. Imagination or conceptional ideas involving technical skills, emotional power, and much more. Art Galleries are one such medium for us to see all these beautiful pieces under one roof. Another place of beauty respite imagination and visual stimulation is the seaside. Ever thought that how calming the sea feels to us with all the peace it brings to our hearts and mind? The same is power of art …. Now imagine how powerful this combination of art and sea would be. Scroll down to read more about this combination named “Art Deco and Sea”.

As the 1920’s and ’30s is marked as a synonym with leisure and pleasure especially for British coastal destinations. Somewhere where people of every class escaped to for rest and entertainment. In the days before global travel was accessible to all the `British seaside had a massive part to play in the leisure of its people. Either a holiday destination or a works day out the British seaside was an important playground at this time.

More and more artifacts including posters, paintings, brochures, photography. As well as furniture, textile, fashion, and what-not grew massively in relation to these locations in this time frame.

The period recorded more than 150 works from public and private collections across the UK. The Sainsbury Centre at the University of East Anglia, Norwich has created a show named “Art Deco by the Sea” which has now moved to the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle. The exhibition conditions the works from the original Sainsbury collection and also some on the Laing collection’s own works

Fairground Scene printed by Wilsons’ Show Printers, Leicester. Copyright University of Sheffield Library, National Fairground and Circus Archive.

Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle celebrates the time when this iconic style of art, architecture, and design transformed the British seaside through this show “Art Deco by sea”. The collection shows how this movement influenced British tastes. It exhibits the unique and marvelous work of seaside architecture, posters, photographs and so much more.  

As the name suggests much attention highlights the beauty of the beaches and noted sophisticated and family-friendly destinations as Whitley Bay in North East, Helensburgh on Scotland’s Clyde coast, and Filey in Yorkshire. The beauty enhanced by glorious sunshine, clear blue water, and beautiful coastlines.

Art Deco by the Sea explores how this art form transformed the British seaside during an era of burgeoning mass tourism. It looks at how traditional resorts were modernised and new ones established, and explores how the seaside became a site for innovative modern manufacture, featuring companies such as Poole Pottery, EKCO radios and Crysède textiles, all known for their striking designs. Such companies as these produced popular Art Deco products which were exported all over the world.” Sara Richardson, The Laing Art Gallery Curator for the exhibition

Some remarkable work in the collection is seen under different categories. Under architecture an example of the Midland Hotel in Morecambe to Edinburgh’s famous Portobello Lido. In Posters, several railway companies showing the relationship between travel companies and the promoted destinations. Many artefacts set trends at that time, one such is an art named “The appealing of swimming” that set the swimwear industry to another level.

It showcased two examples of man and woman’s bathing costume in then-revolutionary elastic wool jersey. The other is Flapper dress with arms bare, hip level waistline freeing women from buttoned, laced and corseted restrictions, this dress marked a huge influence on women giving them a comfortable move-in day and evening wear.

It also shows the entertainment of the time; watercolour scenes of huge fairs known as Hopping by Newcastle artist Byron Dawson, and Eric Hesketh Hubbard’s depictions of a traveling circus as examples.

Not only to the visuals but the collection brings testimony of the Jazz age as American music and dance craze crossed Atlantic and all the way into Britain. The tours of these bands and musicians around the UK acquired them immense popularity through 20’s and 30’s.

As the Art Deco became synonyms with Skyscraping architecture exemplified by New York’s Empire State Building it has also become a familiar part UK’s urban landscape personifying style, grace and elegance.

The exhibition is open in mid October and the best part is that the income generated from the ticket sales of the exhibition supports the ambitious programme that helps to inspire the audience and to keep the permanent collection free for all.

If you loved reading Art deco by the sea then why not read self-step here.

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