1950s – 1970s Folk Festival posters & 1970s Folklore book covers

I was interested to find myself at Cecil Sharp House for a meeting recently in Camden, London.  The only dedicated folk arts centre in the world, Cecil Sharp House is the home of  English Folk Dance and Song Society and opened in 1930.  Named after the English folk dance and song collector Cecil Sharp (1859-1924) it now hosts a busy programme of folk events.

I was was thrilled to find some fantastic mid century folk posters whilst poking around the corridors on my lunch break, as well as some beautiful features to the building itself.  I loved the graphic feel of these late 50’s and early 60’s poster designs for festivals at the Royal Albert Hall – clearly there was a large appetite for folk dance and song at the time.

These later designs from the tail end of the 1960s and the early 1970s show that psychedelia had hit by this time and the folk revival was also clearly in full swing.  Having recently been reading the excellent Electric Eden specifically about this period in music culture, it was great to get a visual flavour of the time through these posters too.

The building itself is Grade II listed and has some fascinating features, such as this stunning angular mural by Ivon Hitchens (1893-1979) unveiled in 1954 after the building had been heavily bombed in the war

Lovely carvings near the entrance showing folk traditions like hobby horses

The 1970s in general saw a boom in people embracing a rustic approach to living – from making clothes, textiles and furniture, becoming self sufficient a la the ‘Good Life’, embracing folk wisdom and resurrecting old traditions.  The posters above made me think about the covers of both of these books in my collection from the same era, exploring similar folklore related themes and with some beautiful bold colourways and in a similar lino printed style.

I regularly refer to this tome for some odd herbal facts

Discovering the Folklore of Plants by Margaret Baker.  Originally printed in 1969 and reprinted in 1975 by Shire Publications, Aylesbury.  Found at a car boot most likely

This folk dance book below was given to me by a local folk loving friend Iain and also looks to be in the same ‘Discovering…’ series as the tome above.  I like the hand drawn elements to the cover and some of the photography inside of folk dance traditions is great.  I wonder if some of these traditions have been kept since the book was printed.

Discovering English Folk dance by Hugh Rippon.  Printed in 1975 by Shire Publications Ltd, Aylesbury

I’ve always been drawn to this period in history as well as to folk traditions in general so am lucky to live in Sussex, UK where there is still a burgeoning folk scene with many nights still running since the 70s and folk luminaries such as Shirley Collins live down the road and perform at the pub on the corner.

It’s a region where many of these customs are also still thriving, with numerous Morris and folk dancing troupes, historic and anarchic processions like Lewes Bonfire as well as pagan festivals like the Jack in the Green in Hastings.  I really hope these valuable traditions get the chance to thrive and are sustained by the next generation since they are such important links back to the stories of our past.

Below is the best gent I met at last year’s Jack in the Green.  Long may these weirdy wonderful English customs continue

English Folk Dance and Song Society

Cecil Sharp House,2 Regent’s Park Road, London NW1 7AY.

www.cecilsharphouse.org

Nearest tube: Camden Town

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Finnish vintage ceramics design – Birger Kaipiainen

When in Helsinki in Finland a while back I came across the fantastic EMMA museum of modern art in nearby Espoo and loved stumbling upon an exhibition by Finnish ceramicist Birger Kaipiainen (1915-1988)

Birger Johannes Kaipiainen was one of the best known ceramicists in Finland, producing work for over 50 years after joining Arabia Studios in Helsinki, a pioneering studio of applied art, ceramics and design.  His creations are well known for bridging the gap between ceramics and sculpture

Lots of these pieces dated from the 1950s and 60s

Kaipiainen trained at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in Helsinki. In 1954 he spent some time in the employ of Rörstrand in Sweden, and growing further in recognition, secured an exhibition in New York in 1955.

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1970s Gaelic Book cover illustration

Beautiful book cover illustration from 1970 ‘Gaelic without Groans’ by John Mackechnie.  Love these strong purples, magenta and turquoise, the late 60s / early 70s had the best colour schemes.

Found in a second hand bookshop in Edinburgh, visiting lovely friend, erstwhile collaborator and one of my favourite artists Rachael Macarthur

Published by Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh

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Silver End Art Deco Modernist Village, Witham, Essex

Made a chilly January trip to a very unique place recently – Silver End in Essex, an enclave of Modernist housing with some supreme examples of Art Deco.  Sadly pics have a slight grey January tone! But their wonder still shone through despite the weather.

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Beachlands Modernist 1930s Bungalow estate – Pevensey Bay

Happy new year! In the post Christmas pre new year no man’s land I went in search of sea air to blast away the cheeseboard cobwebs and ended up in Norman’s Bay, a slightly bleak yet atmospheric looking East Sussex coastal outpost I’d often seen from the train and been intrigued by.

A small collection of houses and a Martello tower was all it seemed to offer, but after meandering along the coastal road towards Pevensey Bay with my architecture obsessed companion Alex, to our joy we stumbled upon a hidden wonder – a beautiful estate of charming modernist bungalows from the 1930’s named Beachlands.

Most the the bungalows were built between 1937 – 1939 with plans for a cinema, shops and a whole modernist seaside ‘village’ before work was abandoned in the face of the Second World War.  There were some very clear Art Deco motifs whilst the bright colours and kitsch unusual decor on some of them reminded felt like we might be somewhere like California or Florida.  Some of the grand street names “Marine Drive” and “The Boulevard” somehow evoked ideas of these places too.

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Romanian 1970s Christmas postcards

Picked up these superb and wonderfully Eastern Bloc Christmas postcards in Romania a while back, all dating back to the 1970s.

This festive Brutalist block one is particularly spectacular

A sweet 70s look to these characters below, quite like this 1970’s Czech collage I found a while back.  I like the slightly flared trousers and big heels.

 

All picked up at an antique market in Cluj-Napoca, an attractive university town in Transylvania.  A few more posts on my travels in Romania and Hungary on oddball vintage Romanian ceramics and here on Hungarian book covers and Romanian rural interiors

More curious vintage festive posts in our archive – Christmas postcards from the Soviet Union, surreal baby fishing Christmas postcards from 1905 and New Year pig riding postcards from Czech republic in 1915.

Seasons Greetings from Kuriosas! Thanks for reading and see you in 2019!

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Pispala, Tampere and Porvoo – travels and Finnish interiors

Am (almost) final installment about my travels around Finland.  After my time in Helsinki and at the Haihatus art residency I featured in my earlier posts, I spent the last part of my trip in Tampere, Finland’s second largest city around 100 miles north of Helsinki, visiting a Finnish artist I’d met called Leena

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