We have a real gem for this week’s Bookmarks post - London Underground Maps - Art, Design & Cartography by Claire Dobbin.
It’s hardly possible to imagine London without its underground system - and equally impossible to imagine this underground system without the classic map which guides its millions of users.
This book takes you on its own journey - from 19th century origins to the 21st century future.
Chapter 1 covers the early history and mapping of the London Underground. The first line was opened in 1863 - it was actually steam trains that ran along these early tracks which came as a surprise to us - electric trains being introduced much later, in 1890. Another quick snippet of trivia is that the now ubiquitous term ‘tube’ for the whole of the underground system comes from an early nickname for the Central London Railway which was known as the Two Penny Tube.
The early maps aren’t to be overlooked. There’s some stunning work by artists such as MacDonald ‘Max’ Gill and it also has to be remembered that Harry Beck didn’t start with a blank canvas before producing his famous 1930s design. He took ideas & influences from this earlier mapping such as line diagrams and distinct colours for individual lines.
However, there’s no denying the importance and brilliance of the map originally devised by Beck in 1931 and first published 1933 (there’s a story there too, as it was rejected on its first submission). Chapter 2 charts the map’s development - its geometric design and the abandonment of geographical accuracy.
The various versions of Beck’s map are very interesting - its continuous evolution being essential as new stations were built or design tweeks put into practice.
In addition to reproducing the maps, the book also has some great examples of promotional posters and historical photos showing stations, travellers and artwork in situ.
Chapter 3 explores the continuing legacy of Beck’s design and its influence over other transport maps. Also its branding, souvenir value and wider influence over the art world in general.
We’ve thoroughly enjoyed this book and can highly recommend it.
It adds so much background to the subject without ever being dry or unapproachable.
…and if you’re one of those people who has to hop on & off the tube regularly, this book will really help you see the places with fresh eyes.
The book’s launch ties in with the Mind the Map exhibition that opened last week at the London Transport Museum - the author, Louise Dobbin is Senior Curator there. The exhibition, with accompanying events programme, runs until 28 October 2012.
[Many thanks to Lund Humphries for the review copy]
Before we start, we need to declare a personal interest in this particular book. The author is a very good friend of ours - in fact we’ve blogged about him previously in our Friday Folks series.
Over a period of five years, Paul Floyd Blake regularly photographed sixteen young athletes in the build up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. His work documents a unique time in British history, and captures the development of a generation of sportspeople as they grow from childhood to adulthood within the intense world of elite sport.
Blake’s restrained and subtle portraits offer an alternative to conventional sports photography, with its emphasis on dramatic moments of action. Instead, his images pay tribute to the long slog towards glory that is not usually seen or celebrated, whilst excerpts from the athletes’ own writings offer insights into their personal hopes and fears. Blake’s approach emphasises the individual’s own story and motivations beyond the values and structures of competitive sport, as the title Personal Best suggests. Of the athletes that Paul selected for the project five years ago, three have been selected to take part in the London 2012 Olympics.
The book includes texts by curator Pippa Oldfield (Impressions Gallery, Bradford) and Professor Jonathan Long (Leeds Metropolitan University).
£20.00 + £5.00 P&P
Hardback, 112 pages, 50 colour plates
285mm x 245mm
To order your copy please email PersonalBest@photographer.net
I’ve seen a few different reviews printed recently of Dennis Morris’ Growing Up Black - A Chronicle of Black Britain in the 60s and 70s. The accompanying images really capture an era in London in which my parents & I must have been a part before we emigrated to Trinidad in 1973. His images portray the everyday in the lives of the African Caribbean community in London - the political, the religious, the social and the domestic.
I was also unaware until now that Morris was the creator of many of the iconic images we know and love of Bob Marley, the Sex Pistols and Public Image Limited.
His images remind me of those of the talented Daniel Meadows, whose early work we recently went to at the National Media Museum in Bradford - portraits of urban communities, families, friends and individuals.
The book’s been published this month as a limited edition of just 500 copies - the introductory price is £250, which includes a silver gelatin 10 x 12” print signed by Morris. Thereafter the price rises to £300 + P&P.
We love the folk art inspired illustrations of Alexander Girard and have just discovered that The Alexander Girard Color [Board Book] is available to pre-order from Amazon.
In terms of style & design, the 1970s is sometimes dismissed as being a bit naff or as the decade that taste forgot.
This is very wide of the mark - its influence being both wide ranging and long lasting.
This book, 70s Style & Design, by Dominic Lutyens & Kirsty Hislop clearly demonstrates this.
The decade was remarkable for its diversity - its range of cultures & counter cultures. It began with hippies & flower power and ended with punks & new wave!
There was a “loosened up spirit of fashion & design” during this period - a strong sense of doing your own thing, experimentation, freedom and fun.
There were trends & fashions of course, but it never descended into a bland homogenisation.
It was a very eclectic decade in terms of style & design - psychedelia & flower power spilled over from the 1960s, then there was the strong influence of Art Deco and Art Nouveau, nostalgic Victoriana, the folksy/back to nature style - and later on a harder edged industrial look.
It has been referred to as a decade of ‘the self’ - whether that be individuals looking towards & analyzing their inner self - or an outward expression through personal appearance or living & work spaces. This resulted in a real blossoming of creativity.
The book highlights the influence of various music scenes, movements such as gay rights & women’s lib, the importance of an increasing awareness of the environment, the political & economic factors prevalent at the time, the increasing & diverse student population, the new DIY ethos in both fashion & interiors, a craft renaissance - and the impact of shops such as Habitat, Mr Freedom, Biba and Granny Takes a Trip.
Divided into four chapters, From Pop to Postmodernism, Belle Epoque, Supernature and Avant Garde, the book tackles these subjects in great detail and does a remarkable job in drawing all these strands together.
The text is informative, articulate & well researched - the accompanying photographs capturing all the spirit of this fabulous decade.
The 70s isn’t a particularly well documented era in terms of style & design - this book helps redress the balance.
[Many thanks to Thames & Hudson for this review copy]
It’s been a real pleasure reviewing this book - it’s right up our street - or right up our country lane as the case may be!
As the title suggests, this one is concerned with all things rustic & rural…
…the landscape, the lifestyle, the buildings & their interiors.
Once again, there’s a wonderful introduction by author Stafford Cliff.
As with all good introductions, it not only gives a broad overview of the subject - it also creates atmosphere and whets the appetite for the pages that follow.
He begins with this magical image:
"Many years ago, long before mobile phones or sat-nav, I went to visit a friend who lived in central France. As the light began to fade, my companions and I found ourselves driving along narrow roads in open farmland with our map and our directions running out. Suddenly up ahead we noticed a narrow track leading through fields to a distant farmhouse. We knew that we had arrived at the right place because every few feet along both sides of this road my friend had placed old jam jars containing little flickering candles. The effect was heart-stopping and memorable, and it said ‘Welcome’ in a way no words ever could. The scene comes to mind again now, because it distills the special qualities of living in the country, or visiting those who do."
The book comprises five main chapters - Country Landscapes, The House in the Country, Traditional Homes, Contemporary Homes and Country Details.
It’s great to see traditional & contemporary homes in the same book - the different interpretations of country living.
The blend of the two is just our kind of look - mixing antique country furniture with vintage ceramics & textiles from the 1950s & 60s.
A tool used throughout the book is page spreads of images comparing similar house details in different parts of the world.
It’s perfect for a quick flick through, but also stands up to deeper scrutiny.
The gorgeous photographs taken by the late Gilles De Chabaneix are accompanied by insightful captions - adding detail & context.
We have a handful of books that we gravitate towards - this one has joined their ranks.
This is a great book for providing interior decoration inspiration.
The mood of the subject simply washes over you. It’s very odd, but you almost sigh with relaxation - a sense of well-being & calm descending as you flick through the wonderful landscapes & houses.
There’s only one question left to answer - Do we recommend the book?
Well it’s probably quite obvious by now - if you share our love of country living or country influenced interiors, then this is a must have book.
We’re sure you’ll revisit it over & over again.
[Many thanks to Thames & Hudson for providing this review copy]
Here’s a quick follow up to our recent blog post about vintage American road maps.
A few days after we bought them, we also picked up this lovely little Ladybird book.
It’s from the Flight series - this one being, “Flight Three - U.S.A - A Ladybird Book of Travel Adventure”.
This is a first edition, published in 1959.
Alison & John take a trip to the U.S.A where Dad sometimes goes on business trips.
They land in New York and spend a week there - then hire a car and take a a road trip.
As with most Ladybirds from this era, the illustrations are fabulous.
Other destinations in the series include Australia, Canada, Africa, India and The Holy Land.
If we ever manage to do an American road trip in a vintage camper van (or lovely, shiny Airstream!), we’ll have lots of vintage travel ephemera to accompany us… we suspect there might have been a few changes!
Those of you who have seen photos of our home know that we’re avid collectors of all manner of things.
The book celebrates the things with which we fill our houses - and how people express their personality through their homes and the objects they collect.
We’re always looking for imaginative ways to display…
…and this book is full of great ideas.
All the wonderful images, from houses all around the world, were taken by a single photographer, Gilles de Chabaneix, who spent over 40 years photographing domestic interiors.
The book doesn’t try to advise on what objects to collect, but offers inspiration for people who love to rummage at markets, bid at auction or have treasured heirlooms they want to put on show.
Objects ranging from fine art to humble beach-combed finds rub shoulders throughout the book.
From familiar groupings of mirrors and paintings, to much more idiosyncratic collections, such as a wall-full of vintage postcards of rock formations!
It’s a great lazy afternoon or bedtime read, with over 200 pages of inspiring, fascinating and intriguing rooms.
We’ve revisited the book a few times this week which is a good sign… and you do notice new things each time.
[Many thanks to Thames & Hudson for supplying this review copy]
We’re very excited to introduce a brand new, regular blog theme - Bookmarks - in which we review books & magazines that have caught our eye. Naturally, the books we choose to feature will be on subjects close to our hearts - such as vintage interior design & decoration, homewares, crafts, furniture and collectables.
Clifton-Mogg’s maxim - which runs throughout each chapter - is that making a home calm, cosy and comfortable isn’t hard, shouldn’t be daunting and doesn’t have to be expensive either.
A lot of what she recommends, such as decluttering and having a household cleaning routine, you think you already know and have heard it all before.
But the way in which she puts it makes so much sense, that you may find yourself suddenly whisking piles of stuff off your kitchen table or from your hallway that you’d been oblivious to for months!
Each room in the house is given its own chapter; with advice on how to make them more welcoming, comfortable, peaceful or satisfying.
The book is brimful of glossy, colour photographs of beautiful vignettes…
…there’s page after page of inspiring rooms…
…but these aren’t rooms in unattainable, fantasy homes - all of the looks are easily achievable by us mere mortals!
There are beautiful and practical ideas for storage solutions and showing off your collections of items.
The book was a very enjoyable initial read - and it’s great for dipping back into for tips & ideas.
[Many thanks to Ryland, Peters & Small for supplying this review copy]
The new shop department we’ve been promising is up & running. Childs Play has a mixture of traditional toys & games…
…and furniture such as desks, chairs and blackboards.
Here’s our most recent acquisition - a fab 1960s cot.
So come check us out - we’re adding new items all the time!