'The Stairway to Heaven', The Midland Hotel, designed by architect Oliver Hill (1933) with medallian relief mural by Eric Gill.

‘The Stairway to Heaven’, The Midland Hotel, designed by architect Oliver Hill (1933) with medallion relief mural by Eric Gill.



a research and development project by artist Jenny Steele

During 2015, I will undertake a period of research visiting existing examples of 1930s Seaside Moderne architecture in North West England and Scotland, and existing examples of interior design related to this architecture from the 1930s.

Seaside Moderne architecture is a style of modernist architecture built in the 1930s between World War I and World War II, during the mid war leisure boom.  During the 1930s, everyday workers were newly allocated annual holidays in the United Kingdom, and used these to travel to the seaside to enjoy themselves away from everyday work toils. Palaces of fun, such as the Blackpool Casino and The Midland Hotel were built to house these swathes of people, offering a glamourous and stylish place to relax and enjoy themselves beside the sea.

Seaside Moderne architecture is the shoreline counterpart of  ‘Streamline Moderne’ or ‘Art Moderne’ architecture that references the curved design of ocean liners, with long horizontal lines and nautical details.  This style of architecture, although retaining many of the characteristics of Art Deco, also fought against its more decorative, excessive and floral elements; seeking to represent an understanding of mid war austerity. Moderne was practiced internationally, mainly within Europe, USA, Australia and Commonwealth countries, and the design style was also adopted into industrial design such as car design, particularly in the United States.

During my research, I will also undertake archival research at the RIBA Archive, Victoria and Albert Museum’s Drawing Archive and the Whitworth Art Gallery’s Textile and Wallpaper Collection.

Within the RIBA archive, I will be investigating drawings, and documents relating to design of The Midland Hotel, Morecambe.  At the Victoria and Albert Textile archive, I will research examples of textiles by Marion Dorn, who designed carpets and interior details for The Midland Hotel, as well as Eileen Hunter another successful female interior designer within the 1930s who furnished interiors of Art Moderne architecture.  At the Whitworth Museum and Art Gallery, Manchester, I will be looking at examples of 1930s interior design from the influential textile designers Otti Berger and Gunta Stolzl of the Bauhaus (Germany), and UK based designers, Marian Mahler and Lucienne Day.  For more information, please read visit the archival research page.

From this visual research, I will create a series of new drawing, print and sculptural based works.  In May 2015, a series of preliminary drawings were exhibited at the solo exhibition The Fair at Glasgow Open House Art Festival.  In March 2016, there will be a test bed exhibition of work at In Certain Places Project Space, Preston.  In July 2016, I will present a solo exhibition at The Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, with an accompanying symposium on Seaside Moderne.

I am a Scottish artist based in Manchester, UK. My work is motivated by architecture that suggests a utopic hope for the future, corresponding histories and ideas of place, using the processes of drawing, printmaking and sculpture in my work.  Past projects have investigated modernist, post-colonial and post-industrial architectural sites.  For more information please visit my website.

If you would like more information on the project, to collaborate or be involved, please get in touch – jennysteelestudio@gmail.com





LOOKING BACK|MOVING FORWARD is kindly supported by Grants for the Arts, Arts Council England, University of Central Lancashire and Blackpool Council.






6 responses to “about

    • Thanks for the photographs. I will be visiting The Carron. It is currently closed and for sale as the owners have retired which is a shame. That is interesting – I didn’t know that about it being a place for women to meet, thanks.

      • The sales agent’s web site says it is under offer!

        The former owner’s web site says “The ladies of Stonehaven used it extensively and, like the Willow rooms in Glasgow; it was instrumental in liberating the women from domestic servitude, providing them with a socially acceptable meeting place.” and I remember being told the same when I was working up there

  1. That is good it is under offer. I have only visited it once in the past and was amazed by it. My grandparents had their wedding party there in the 1940s. Thank you for the link to the website, I haven’t visited in a while. Did you work/live there for long?

  2. I would like to come to your lecture at The Grundy gallery on August 3rd and expect others from St.Annes Civic Sic might like to come too.
    Not sure if this was the place to book?
    Chris Marshall (St.Annes)

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