Bamforth's Saucy Seaside Postcards At Russell-Cotes Art Gallery

By Freya McClelland | 30 October 2008
An image of a voluptuous woman in a bikini on a beach with other people looking at her.

Courtesy of Kirklees Museums and Galleries.

Exhibition Preview - Secrets of the Saucy Seaside Postcard running until February 1 2009 at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth.

A cheeky new exhibition at Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum celebrates the artwork of the infamous Bamforth ‘saucy’ seaside postcards in the ideal location of seaside resort town Bournemouth.

Secrets of the Saucy Seaside Postcard takes a behind-the-scenes look at the artwork that went into creating the red-nosed or red-faced husbands, buxom beauties and other caricatures associated with Bamforth’s comic postcard.

Tracing the journey from the artist’s rough sketch to the final print, 200 original artworks are being shown alongside the original postcards.

The exhibition also reveals some of the other printed items – calendars, Valentines day and birthday cards – produced by the company, which operated for over 85 years before being sold to a Scarborough-based postcard publisher in 1987.

Adding a modern satirical twist to Bamforth’s tongue-in-cheek postcards is the specially commissioned artwork by three contemporary artists, funded by the Arts Council.

An image of a woman lying on the beach next to sunglasses and a book wearing a red bathing suit.

The exhibition is running until Feburary 1 2009. Courtesy of Kirklees Museums and Galleries.

Paddy Killer, from Halifax and now based in Newcastle, has produced a giant textile postcard featuring famous faces. She has taken figures from original Bamforth cards and, in keeping with the tradition of reflecting topical issues, has added modern faces such as Posh and Becks, Ant and Dec and George Bush and Tony Blair.

The postcard sends greetings from Benidorm in Spain one of today’s most popular holiday destinations. The ink drawing on silk is finished with quilting and embroidery.

Olivia Brown, a Hebden Bridge-based artist who produces ceramic animals, has created a fun pier installation inhabited not by people but by dogs. ‘Bonemouth Pier’, an eight-foot sq work, has dogs sitting in deck chairs, dogs having a silly seaside picture taken by a dog photographer and dogs getting on with their holidaying.

An image of brown shows with a pair of trousers on top.

Fallen Trousers by Kate Eggleston-Wirtz. © Kate Eggleston-Wirtz

Kate Eggleston-Wirtz, an American artist based in Lytham, has produced three mixed media works, which look at different aspects of the postcards. ‘Beach Ball’ is a large papier mâché beach ball covered in pictures of bottoms, bellies and boobs, a regular feature in Bamforth’s postcards.

‘Fallen Trousers’, a pair of trousers that have fallen down onto a pair of shoes, is inspired by the naughtiness of some of the postcards. And lastly, ‘Chocolate Box’, a cash box containing chocolates with black faces attached, looks at the racial stereotyping and censorship issues surrounding the postcards.

Admission to the exhibition is free.

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