Icograda 50th Anniversary

Yet again, it has been a busy summer in the Archives – we have had some major building works done this past month or so. In the middle of the slightly chaotic goings on, we have been beavering on with our usual duties. The end of the building works is in sight just in time for the start of term and a new load of students joining the University. Hopefully a lot of them will also find their way to see us!

Surface cleaning, conservation, University of Brighton Design Archives, Sirpa Kutilainen
Kristy Woodruffe surface cleaning one of the posters in preparation for the Icograda 50th Anniversary exhibition

In a blog entry I wrote back in May, I hinted that plans taking place to celebrate Icograda‘s 50th Anniversary this year. I am very happy to announce that for the past few months, we have been busy working in collaboration with Professor Lawrence Zeegen (Dean of Design at the London College of Communication) and designer Tara Hanrahan (think/do) on an exhibition entitled ‘Posters Selected from the Icograda Archive’, celebrating not only 50 years of Icograda but also 50 years of LCC at Elephant and Castle. This project is now on its last push before the show opens – the exhibition will be held at the London College of Communication between 31st of August and 13th of September. In a nutshell, it comprises of 45 posters from the Icograda Archive selected by 15 of today’s leading design practitioners. You can read more about the project in our news item.

Surface cleaning, conservation, University of Brighton Design Archives, Sirpa Kutilainen

Since the final selections were made by the designers, I was kept occupied with preparing them for the exhibition. I also roped in a fellow Camberwell Conservation graduate Kristy Woodruffe to help me with the task – working in pairs is always much more fun! We were up against it to get the conservation work done before the builders took over the Archive. Generally the selections made were in good condition but quite a few had accumulated visible surface dirt and tears over time. As you can imagine, simply surface cleaning a large format poster takes a long time and we had 45 of them to get through in a relatively short space of time – no easy task!

Surface cleaning, conservation, University of Brighton Design Archives, Sirpa Kutilainen
Difference between surface cleaned and not is quite clear

The posters were then packaged for transportation to the LCC, exit forms were signed and they were off en route to London. On Wednesday this week I travelled up to the LCC to help the exhibition team with the framing of the materials. Due to the size of the posters, this really did require as many hands as possible! It was great to see how it was all coming together so nicely – it is really fantastic to see them on their way to a whole new audience!

It has been great to work in collaboration with another institute on a sizable project like this where the approach to looking at the poster materials has been different to anything that has been done with them before. A fair few pieces from the collection have been exhibited in the past in conjunction with other events but it is safe to say we have never had an experience of over a baker’s dozen of designers descending on us for two very hectic days of selection process – this in itself was fascinating to observe.

Icograda archive, posters, exhibition, University of Brighton Design Archives, Sirpa Kutilainen
‘The framing team’ at the LCC

To me personally, the process of the exhibition planning and realisation has been especially rewarding after spending so much time working so closely with the posters in cataloguing, digitising, re-housing and conserving them. Due to the large sizes of the original material causing handling difficulties, it presented a wonderful opportunity to test our catalogue with its digitised versions of the works on a demanding ‘audience’ – and it will be even more wonderful to go and see the original posters on the wall. Hopefully they will inspire people to come and use the Archive as a spring board for new adventures.

Icograda archive, exhibition, frames, University of Brighton Design Archives, Sirpa Kutilainen
It is no mean feat in finding the space to lay the works out – here some of the acrylic frames waiting for posters and others all in the frames, set for hanging

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