My curatorial project began with the classification of material held at the Eckersley Archive at the London College of Communication. This described Eckerlsey’s career in terms of a unique combination of four distinct periods of graphic activity. These were itemised in the exhibition catalogue.
• As an established member of the poster design community in Britain during the 1930s and as a contributor to the campaigns of London Transport, Shell and the GPO.
• As a pioneer designer of industrial safety propaganda for RoSPA during WW2. The extension of war propaganda to include welfare issues was a unique characteristic of British Home-Front communications. These established a visual language able to express the high hopes and ideals of political transformation.
• As a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale Tom Eckersley was at the forefront of European efforts to develop a sophisticated visual language able to express ideas beyond the scope of commercial advertising.
• As an educationalist at the London College of Printing Tom Eckersley transformed the teaching of graphic design and created a studio laboratory environment dedicated to problem solving in visual communication.
The exhibition, catalogue and creation of an online resource were facilitated by a grant from the AHRC. Related published outputs ('Social Vision' (Eye, volume 13 issue 52 pp34-43, 2004) and ('Eckersley and LCP' (Baseline, number 51 pp37-44, 2007) give more detailed analysis of the second and fourth elements in this classification. A further publication ('Citizenship and Visual Communication') (Renewal, volume 13 number 2/3 pp130-139, 2007) describes the contemporary practical potential of Eckerlsey’s contribution to the communication of social messages based on the social communications of WW2. This exhibition, catalogue and related outputs constitute the first detailed and systematic analysis of Eckerlsey’s work in graphic design.