We’ve loved seeing WIA favourite Anna Hymas‘s posters last year on the Underground and you can check them out again in Poster Girls, the new exhibition at the London Transport Museum and as the cover of the book accompanying the exhibition. Read Anna’s Q&A from earlier this year here.
A timely look at recognising the substantial contribution women have made and continue to make to London Underground poster design, Poster Girls showcases the posters created by women artists. London Underground began commissioning poster art in the 1900’s and the exhibition gives an interesting window into social and political norms. Design and illustration is one of the few professions that was available to women at the beginning of the 20th century when it was not generally accepted for women to work professionally.
Here at WIA we love this work from 1935 by Anna Katrina Zinkeisen with echoes of surrealism and psychedelia.
London Underground was key in commissioning work by women artists, but their contribution was often hidden through the conventions of the time. This included leaving artwork unsigned, signed only by initials, or using the agency rather than the artist name. While their male counterparts received professional accolades and higher salaries, womens’ contributions were obscured.
Ruth Sykes, graphic designer and associate lecturer in graphic design at Central Saint Martins, said: “These artists have and continue to make an incredibly important contribution to poster design but generally they are not as well-known as their male contemporaries. The Poster Girls exhibition will help to redress this by bringing their work to the attention of a wider public audience.”
Poster Girls exhibits some of the leading female artists who have worked for London Transport and Transport for London including well-known designers, such as Mabel Lucie Attwell, Laura Knight, Enid Marx and Zandra Rhodes, alongside lesser known artists who nonetheless changed the way Londoners viewed their city. The works on display show a dazzling spectrum of artistic styles and mediums; modernist, figurative, flat colour, boldly patterned, abstract, collage and oil. In total , at least 170 women are known to have been commissioned by the capital’s transport system since 1910. Many more are likely to have designed posters for the system, their identity hidden by initials, subsumed under the name of an Advertising Agency, or simply unsigned. For the first time, this exhibition attempts to recognise some of these forgotten design heroines.