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it’s quicker by tram

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some photos of the completed mural including the obligatory press shot being taken in which we pretend jason is just adding the finishing touches to indicate the scale of the artwork – the resulting photo was used in the yorkshire post just before christmas: artists celebrate resort’s timeless appeal. the mural was commissioned by the central tramway company who suggested the idea of a view of the bay and some possible straplines. they approached us just as i was preparing for my talk on the golden era of railway posters & the east coast of yorkshire at scarborough art gallery and this seemed the perfect opportunity to create a homage to one of my design heroes – tom purvis.

purvis was one of only four artists paid a retainer to work exclusively for the london & north eastern railway in the 1930s and produced a series of iconic images that helped establish the yorkshire coast’s seaside image. his genius was in being able to express a sense of place and experience in striking images of flat colour. to my mind his work has never been bettered. rather than just copy one of purvis’s designs we suggested a contemporary scene inspired by his ‘east coast joys’ series. we couldn’t hope to produce anything to purvis’s standard but hope this serves as a tribute in the town whose image he helped create. the public response has been fantastic – we’re currently producing some postcards of the artwork which will be available from the tramway station.

here’s jason of sign experience actually painting the lettering instead of just pretending. the typeface is gill sans and was the house typeface for the LNER and subsequently british railways – the same face we used in the paved artwork on the former scarborough-whitby railway line. thanks to jason for again realizing one of our designs with his immaculate brushwork.

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east coast joys

i’m giving a free talk at scarborough art gallery tomorrow (wednesday) at 11am – called ‘east coast joys’ it ties in with their current exhibition of railway posters promoting scarborough. please pop on down for an hour’s journey into a world of art deco, typography and sex appeal.

i’ll be looking at the posters that i think defined the image of scarborough that prevails to this day. these classic images by artists such as tom purvis and frank newbould were not only amongst the best poster art in the world, but communicated an image of the british seaside that deep-rooted itself in the national consciousness. the railways played a major role in creating ‘the seaside’ we know today – scarborough alone had 4 miles of railway sidings built purely to house summer excursion trains.

the context for these extraordinary designs is an adventurous approach to marketing by the london & north eastern railway who pretty much invented the concept of ‘branding’ as we know it. i’ll be taking in ‘the world’s most famous train’ – the flying scotsman – and the recording-breaking mallard along the way and how the LNER used technological achievements to build an image for their company that was the embodiment of modernist style and glamour, despite the fact that a much larger proportion of the company’s business was far less attractive.

the event is free with normal gallery admission (£2) or annual pass and i’d suggest that the current exhibition is worth the price of entry alone – i’m an added extra just for tomorrow. in the afternoon i’m also running workshops where you can create your own art deco railway poster to take home with you – perfect for families & train enthusiasts alike.

illuminating hidden words

what started out as an long-standing idea by charlotte to transform scarborough’s italian gardens into a typographic trail became reality on saturday evening. over 150 people came down to explore this tucked away part of the south cliff, normally in total darkness but for one night only filled with light and music and with words from local young poets and songwriters.


the ‘hidden words’ were musings on life in scarborough – a mix of honest, revealing and optimistic thoughts that might ordinarily not be heard by such a wide audience. it was great to see so many people turn out and to hear such positive comments about the trail.



the trail of hidden words was made possible by funding from ideas tap (charlotte was one of 9 recipients selected from over 200 applicants) and with support from scarborough borough council. thank you!

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