Portraits: Women Designers


Barbara Jones

Black and white portrait of Barbara Jones leaning over a table with drawingsIllustrator, mural artist, writer and campaigner (1912-1978)

Born in Croydon on Christmas Day, 1912, Barbara Jones studied mural decoration at the Royal College of Art and was part of the circle of artists associated with its heydey in the 1930s. A painter and illustrator, she was actively involved in the Britain Can Make It exhibition 1946, Enterprise Scotland, 1947, and the Festival of Britain, 1951, for which she designed murals. She also painted murals for a number of ocean liners between the 1940s to 1960s including the S.S. Orcades (1948-49). James Gardner requested her involvement over several decades: with ‘Design Fair’ for the Council of Industrial Design in the late 1940s; the Festival of Britain in 1951 and the Commonwealth Institute, London, 1962. Her exhibition ‘Black Eyes and Lemonade’ for the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1951 and her book ‘The Unsophisticated Arts’ of the same year are said to remain landmarks in the appreciation of vernacular English culture. She was the author and illustrator of several books:  Follies and Grottoes (1953), Design for Death,  (a study of funeral customs), cemetries and artifacts associated with death, (1967), English Furniture at a Glance, (1954), Water Colour Painting, A Practical Guide, (1960), Popular Arts of World War One, (1970), Erotic Postcards, (1977). Jones was a member of the Society of Authors, a Fellow of the Society of Industrial Artists (http://www.csd.org.uk/), editing the society’s journal from 1951-3 and becoming Vice President in 1969. She was also a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute.

Barbara Jones died on 28 August 1978.

Further reading:

  • The Barbara Jones Archives forms part of the University of Brighton Design Archives.
  • Ruth Artmonsky, A Snapper Up of Unconsidered Trifles: A Tribute to Barbara Jones, 2008.


Original image reference: GB-1837-DES-DCA-30-1-POR-J-15-2. Design Council Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives.

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Sirpa Kutilainen • November 10, 2015

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  1. The Croydonist explore the life of Croydon-born mural artist Barbara Jones

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