A tonic to the nation

Festival fever is gathering pace ahead of the Festival of Britain celebrations at London’s Southbank Centre, which start later this month.

Those keen to find out more about the designer behind the festival’s iconic logo, Abram Games, should head down to Chichester’s Pallant House Gallery for an exhibition of artwork from the festival and a talk by his daughter Naomi about his work, which will be held this week.

The Festival of Britain brochure cover
The Festival of Britain brochure cover

Games was an official war artist during World War II, and was responsible for some of the most iconic posters of this era. His ‘blond bombshell’ poster created for the Auxiliary Territorial Service, which featured a chic red-lipped recruit, causes a furore at the time for ‘misleading’ people about the rigours of army life, and soon after replaced with something less risqué.

But despite Games’ success, his beginnings were anything but orthodox. Born in London’s Whitechapel, Games was educated at Hackney Downs School, where his passion for a career for art was scoffed at. Despite this he went on to St Martins School of Art but anxious about the course’s expense and disillusioned by the teaching, Games left after two terms and began working for his father as a photographer’s assistant.

A painting of the Festival of Britain
A painting of the Festival of Britain

After a stint at commercial art studio Askew-Young – from which he was fired after he was caught jumping chairs – Games went freelance, winning commissions for London Transport, Shell and the Post Office.

The talk will cover Games’ life and early work, as well as the Festival of Britain images for which he is so well known.

Games poster
Games poster

The Abram Games: A Symbol for the Festival talk takes place at Pallant House, 9 North Pallant, Chichester, PO19 1TJ on 7 April at 6pm. A Tonic to the Nation: The Festival of Britain runs at the gallery until 8 May.

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