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Read, Watch and Listen

Foreword by Anna Neagle, 'How to be a Good Hostess'

London: Spillers Flour Limited, c.1950. Kerry Group, plc.

Possessing no other qualification than celebrity, popular British film actress Anna Neagle (1904-1986) helped to glamorise the act of baking on behalf of the Spiller’s flour brand. This foreword engages charismatic legitimation, being powerfully personalised in the form of a letter, beginning ‘How lovely to see you’ and ending with an autograph ‘Yours sincerely, Anna Neagle’. It bears comparison, therefore, with the graphic and textual techniques of the numerous film magazines of the era.

Couple on the Sands, Ambrotype​

The itinerant beach photographer was the first mass-producer of plein-air portraits and very quickly introduced seaside paraphernalia as ‘props’, seen here in the clinker-built boats signifying a coastal location. The two sitters we also see typify a fashionably confident pose of the day. They verge on the defiant in their informality and intimacy, indicated by lounging together on the pebbles and the male placing his arm fully around the shoulder of the female.

Cover, 'Betty Crocker’s Guide to Easy Entertaining: How to Have Guests - And Enjoy Them'

New York: Golden Press, 1959. Illustrated by Peter Spier. Courtesy of General Mills Archives.

Published advice is sometimes given by invented authors, such as Betty Crocker. This cover resembles needlepoint, a home craft typically applied to domestic soft furnishings and accessories. The imagery emphasises traditional home comforts: a red-roofed home set in landscaped garden with a white picket fence is framed with a cartouche showing a teapot, roast turkey, leg of ham, pink iced celebration cake, pineapple (symbol of welcome). The cover features Crocker’s ‘signature’, and a possessive title, exemplifying charismatic legitimisation.

Family in Bathers/Studio, Unframed Tintype

19th century examples of sitters wearing bathing costumes paradoxically have not been taken at the seaside, but rather at nearby portrait studios frequently situated close to the beach. This modest unframed tintype is perhaps an example of the studio bathing costume portrait at its most stark.

Back cover, Sarah Maclean, 'Pan Book of Etiquette and Good Manners'

London: Pan, 1962.

This back cover juxtaposes a pensive woman with a number of questions, implying that these are the questions on her mind. A box at the top of the questions asks ‘How often do you stop to wonder -’ thereby connecting the woman shown, with the reader. In this example visual imagery is used to provide a representative for the reader and to make the questions asked, and answered, in the text, more direct and vivid.

Couple in Bathers/Studio

This studio portrait of a couple in bathing costumes whilst modest nevertheless seeks a more naturalistic mise-en-scene of faux beach, rock and driftwood and is then given further depth through the tromp l’oeil seascape backdrop. The rented bathing costumes bear the name of the photographer’s studio ‘H.J.Larkins’, but as a tintype seen here in lateral reverse.