The Legacy of Seaside Moderne, Grundy Art Gallery

Chair, Grundy curator Richard Parry, and Jenny Steele (right)

Chair, Grundy curator Richard Parry, and Jenny Steele (right)

Last week, Grundy Art Gallery hosted the event ‘The Legacy of Seaside Moderne’, where I talked about my work and research in relation to Seaside Moderne architecture, and invited speakers Professor Fred Gray, photographer Stephen Marland and Blackpool historian to present their research into various aspects of 1930s architecture. The event was kindly chaired by Grundy curator, Richard Parry. We had attendees from afar afield as Leicester, as well as local people from Blackpool, Morcambe, Manchester and Preston, including people who work in private and public tourist industries on the Fylde coast.

Blackpool Opera House Interior, by Jenny Steele

Blackpool Opera House Interior, by Jenny Steele

I spoke about my 18 month research and development project, Looking Back| Moving Forwards, kindly supported by Arts Council England, Blackpool Council and UcLan.  I discussed my research trips to sites across North West England and Scotland into 1930s seaside modernist architecture, as well as corresponding archival research.  I then spoke about work I made for the test bed project at In Certain Places, Preston in March, and the current exhibition, ‘An Architecture of Joy’ at The Grundy Art Gallery (until 13th August 2016).

A Restorative Resort, drawing and painting digitally printed on cotton, walnut burl pelmet

A Restorative Resort, drawing and painting digitally printed on cotton, walnut burl pelmet

Professor Fred Gray, author of Designing the Seaside, spoke about 1930s architecture and the Cult of the Sun. Gray outlined the origins of the attraction to bathing at the seaside, and the high point of outdoor architecture on the coast during the 1930s. He discussed the promotional material used by the local tourist boards. Below you can see a painting commissioned to be used to promote Blackpool in the 1930s, which is quite different to the photograph of the same beach during the same period.

Professor Fred Gray talking about 1930s Architecture and the Cult of the Sun

Professor Fred Gray talking about 1930s Architecture and the Cult of the Sun

Painting of Blackpool for promotional material for Blackpool tourist board in 1930s

Painting of Blackpool for promotional material for Blackpool tourist board in 1930s

Comparison between the 1930s promotional painting of Blackpool, and an actual photograph of the beach at that time.

Comparison between the 1930s promotional painting of Blackpool, and an actual photograph of the beach at that time.

Blackpool historian, and Blackpool Winter Gardens and Pleasure Beach archivist spoke about Art and Design at the Pleasure Beach from its redesign in the 1930s by Joseph Emberton. The presentation including fascinating images of designs, as well as buildings and decoration which have since been destroyed.

Ted Lightbown spoke about Art and Design at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Ted Lightbown spoke about Art and Design at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Photographer Stephen Marland shared his photographs of visits to 1930s architecture in the South Coast, predominantly, Marine Court in St Leonards, Hastings, Bexhill on Sea and Pevensey. You can see more of Marland’s beautiful photography and writing on his blog here

Marine Court, St Leonards, photographed by Stephen Marland

Marine Court, St Leonards, photographed by Stephen Marland

Bexhill on Sea, photographed by Stephen Marland

Bexhill on Sea, photographed by Stephen Marland

Following the presentations we held an in conversation between the panelists, and then the audience, where we discussed the legacy of this architecture on the coast, and how it can offer heritage appeal to tourists, how ‘holidaymaking’ has changed over the decades and how this has altered seaside tourism today.

Presentations and the discussion will soon be available on Sound Cloud.

Discussion panel (left to right) Professor Fred Gray, Stephen Marland, Jenny Steele, Ted Lightbown and Richard Parry

Discussion panel (left to right) Professor Fred Gray, Stephen Marland, Jenny Steele, Ted Lightbown and Richard Parry

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