National Heritage Collection of Shell Posters, A Talk by Nicki Balfour on May 1st 2018

Nicki Balfour Penny gave a truly fascinating talk to around 30 members of The Lymington Society on the Shell Heritage Art collection .

In her presentation Nicki explained that the collection is still owned by Shell but kept on view at the Museum where she is the archivist . Nicki gave a chronological walk through the collection starting with the early postcards used for advertising and highlighting some of the social issues of the day such as Votes for Women .

Members were surprised to discover that the advertising also featured Valentines cards and even early silent films .

The posters themselves provided a unique insight into the social history of the twentieth century from the early 1900s to 1970s. Nicki emphasised the importance of Shell’s director of advertising Jack Beddington, who in the 1930s was successful in commissioning some of the country’s best artists to design poster collections such as “Visit Britain’s Landmarks”, Prefer Shell, and “ Everywhere you go “ among others This has made the collection not only a showcase for the social history of the time but has helped highlight the early works of artists such as Ben Nicholson, Paul Nash, Vanessa Bell , Rex Whistler , Graham Sutherland, Edward Kauffer and Hans Schleger.

Members were also interested to learn that Shell compiled a series of Travel Guides edited by John Betjeman which were made into short films, and broadcast in black and white on TV. There were also a series of poster on nature topics which were used in school in the sixties.

Indeed it became clear that the collection is foremost a great treasure trove of commercial art rather than just a series of adverts.

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