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Designs on Delivery Exhibition

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by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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Posters by the Post Office
Royal postal museum design on delivery, dali, art, posters

With a postman and avid stamp collector for a father, you learn a few things about the Royal Mail. As well as a few of the ins and outs of the business, I also know that the postal service can be very creative. I just have to look at an album from my dad's (extensive) stamp collection to see how many creative ideas they have come up with. The Royal Mail commemorate all kinds of events such as anniversaries (successions of kings, launching of ships, etc), seasons (spring, summer, etc), holidays (Easter, Christmas, etc) and nature (flowers, fish, etc); they even allow you to customise your own smiler sheets. Every year my dad asks me to take photos, then upload them to their website to print off (he's useless with technology).

stamps, smiler sheet, royal mail, dr who
'Dr Who' Smiler Sheet

One other category they are obviously very good at is advertising, particularly of television shows. Right now they are obsessed (along with the rest of the country) with Dr Who, and are producing stamp sheets by the bucket load. As there are so many Dr Who fans, this is of course very good for business.

There was one time, however, when their creative side was not shown through stamps, but through posters. Design played a crucial role in promoting social progress and technological change across Britain between 1930 and 1960, and the Post Office took on a prominent role in poster design, commissioning some of Britain's best artists and designers.

During the 1920s their posters were designed by staff because of the post-war economic climate, but when they hired their first public relations officer, Stephen Tallents in 1933, they were able to bring in key people from arts and business sectors, such as Kenneth Clark, director of the National Gallery. Arts were hired to make educational and promotional posters that were eye-catching, grasped the attention and had a quirky style.

Now an exhibition of these posters is being curated by the Postal Office Museum between 19th March - 27th June. Designs on Delivery will be held at Great Western Hospital in Swindon and is free for all.
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Why? Fun for art lovers
When: 19th March - 27th June
Phone: 01793 60 40 20
Where: Great Western Hospital
Cost: Free
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