I was tidying up the spare room today, dusting and rearranging our books when I came across this little gem. I had completely forgotten that we had this facsimile copy of the 1924 edition of the Metro-land magazine, which was published annually between 1915 and 1932, and advertised the wonders that were happening to the north west of London.
Finding this reminded me that we also had a DVD copy of John Betjeman’s programme from 1973, in which he travelled the lines eulogising about the missed opportunities and lost character that Metroland became, whilst simultaneously celebrating the oddness that he found there.. the organist in his suburban home was my favourite.
Metro-land was an advertising slogan developed by the Metropolitan Railway to entice workers from cramped and dirty homes in Central London out into the rural paradise of Middlesex, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
In my book, Metroland is depicted as a place of beauty and charm. where the sun always shines. It was perhaps not surprisingly, not much like this. The creation of Metroland destroyed the very thing – open countryside and orchards – which was used to advertise it. The speculative homes thrown up around the new stations bore little resemblances to the Tudor cottages depicted in the advertising materials: most were dreary semis, constructed at great haste and sold cheaply
Needless to say I ended up watching the programme again and reading through the book, much more fun than tidying up…
A trip down memory lane… I dug this book out from my childhood and was amazed at how fresh the illustrations still look. It was first published in 1962, and has never been out of print.
I cannot believe I haven’t come across this guy before now!!
His work contains everything I love about graphic design and art; geometric shapes, brilliant but simple ideas and strong colours. It seems he started working back in the 1950′s creating paintings for advertisements, with these stylised animal paintings developing through the 1970′s until his death a couple of years ago.
We’ve now been back from our 8 month long world odyssey for about 3 weeks, and life is returning so some sort of normality. Little A has gone back to work and I am at home keeping myself busy whilst looking for a new job (not that hard if the truth be known)
Anyway to help keep track of the days, I’ve started this blog. Wharfer J is possibly not the best title, but all the others I could think of at the time of signing up had been taken, so hopefully it will grow on me.
The last 8 months have been incredible. Actually the last year has been pretty much full on: from losing my job in April 2009, to (finally) getting to see David Byrne at an excellent Big Chill in August, and then visiting 16 countries over 3 continents over the eight months we were away. The stuff we’ve seen…… far too much to describe, but suffice to say that Peru, Argentina, New Zealand & Laos are all well worth visiting.
One specific place that really does stand out in my memories though is the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. This photo was taken by me in September 2009. It’s a truly magical place that takes your breath away and leaves you speechless, not only because of its stunning beauty but also because of its thin air, it being well over 4500m above sea level…
I’m not sure how this blog will develop, but I think it will generally be a place to keep track of everything that interests me: art, architecture, design, graphics, music, culture, history etc.
And as to who it’s for… well that’s pretty obvious isn’t it… it’s for me.