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Title: Shell's England : corporate patronage and English art in the Shell posters of the 1930s
Author: Speakman, Malcolm V.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5353 2115
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis establishes why the Shell Oil Company produced a series of seventy-one posters of the British landscape in the 1930s. Through an examination of the 76 cm. x 114cm. posters that were attached to the sides and backs of the company’s delivery lorries, the thesis determines why Shell chose this form of publicity. The thesis examines the posters as historical, if ephemeral, artefacts and analyses the social, economic and cultural context of their production. Whilst there has been some historical analysis of poster design within the field of design history, the significance of the poster within these contexts has been largely neglected. The unique hybrid nature of the Shell posters as advertising based upon fine art using over fifty artists and designers makes them a unique repository of British visual culture of the 1930s. This thesis describes how Shell created three landscape poster campaigns, not through the enlightened patronage of its publicity manager, Jack Beddington, but through a complex set of circumstances that included: the cartel that was formed by the oil companies supplying Britain; the development and encouragement of motoring tourism and its effect on the countryside; the middle-class rejection of working class holiday destinations; concern about the preservation of the countryside; the effect of the ‘slump’ on the working lives of artists; economic and aesthetic arguments about the relationship between fine and commercial art and the relationship between landscape and national identity. Chapter 1 explores the background and influences that led to the creation of the posters, including the precursors of Beddington and the development of the poster as a medium. Chapter 2 investigates the inter-war debate that exposed the uneasy relationship between fine art, commercial art and industry. Chapter 3 investigates the concept of ‘place’ and uses case studies of places Shell wished to portray as destinations. Chapter 4 examines, through case studies, how the landscape, as portrayed by the posters, is represented for tourists and also the posters’ function within tourism.
Supervisor: Crinson, Mark; Lomas, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Posters ; Shell Oil ; Interwar