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Early 20th century advertising by Cunard goes on display in Liverpool

Article-Early 20th century advertising by Cunard goes on display in Liverpool

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A selection of original Cunard travel posters and other materials were unveiled at the University of Liverpool’s Victoria Gallery & Museum on March 23
The exhibition ‘Travel in Style – Iconic Cunard Advertising in the 1920s and 1930s’ was unveiled before travel agents yesterday at the University of Liverpool’s Victoria Gallery & Museum.

On display in Gallery 5, it offers a glimpse into Cunard’s seafaring heritage from this period and has been specially curated to show original marketing materials and other enduring documents. 

It chronicles the line’s history in design and style, with some pieces inspiring design choices for the Princess Grill restaurant and Queens Grill Suites onboard Queen Anne, Cunard’s latest ship scheduled to set sail in May 2024.  

The exhibition opens to the public on March 25. Cunard’s Sea Views online exhibition opened earlier this month, capturing a century of Cunard sailings with actors Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth and Bing Crosby, and South African anti-apartheid activist and politician Nelson Mandela, among the famous faces that can be seen.

Showcases materials not normally accessible to the public

Siân Wilks, archivist for Cunard at the University of Liverpool Library explained that the Cunard archive contains most of the surviving business records produced by the brand since it became a limited company in 1878. She added that it provides rich insight into the line’s history and the social history of thousands of people whose lives Cunard impacted, including members of its crew, office staff and passengers. 

‘The exhibition will give visitors to Liverpool the opportunity to view a selection of original Cunard travel posters that are not normally accessible due to their large size and preservation requirements,’ noted Wilks. ‘Printed advertisements and ephemera will also be on display, which will include examples of memorabilia that have been donated by members of the public, reflecting their personal experiences of travelling with Cunard.’ 

The wider Cunard archives are housed at the University of Liverpool library, with many of the records dating from the early part of the 1900s and occupying over 400 linear metres.

Queen Anne to reference Cunard’s history

‘Cunard is world-renowned for inventing the golden era of ocean travel and this exhibition beautifully showcases the timelessness of our brand,’ asserted Lee Powell, VP of brand and product, Cunard. ‘Luxury, sophistication, and glamour are rooted in our DNA and these core values are as important to today’s guests as they were to travellers 100 years ago.’

He added, ‘Whilst we cherish our heritage, we also use it as inspiration for forward-looking ideas when we plan for the future. Queen Anne is the next in a fine line for Cunard and she will be bursting with breath-taking moments around every corner; all of which contain subtle references to our history.’

Queen Anne’s interiors

Queen Anne’s interiors take inspiration from Cunard’s past, celebrating the art deco style finishes that the brand is known for. The ship will contain several contemporary spaces that evoke memories of its history.

Designers from David Collins Studio, who have been immersed in the Cunard archives, were in attendance to reveal the design inspiration behind Queen Anne.  

‘With such history and heritage to draw upon, the Cunard brand is rich with inspiration for us as designers,’ revealed Jason Stewart, associate director, David Collins Studio. 

‘...We began by delving into the incredible Cunard archives at the University of Liverpool and found many inspiring references that informed our designs. A great example is when we discovered the first trans-Atlantic crossing from Great Britain to Nova Scotia. The flora and fauna of Nova Scotia has informed the beautiful flowers that will feature across the walls in the Princess Grill Suite.’  

A ship for the future 

He explained that the brief for the project was to create a ship for the future, ‘I think we have achieved this with a design that is timeless and sophisticated, that won’t date and yet is adaptable for the future. Our designs feature carefully curated architectural details that reference Cunard’s heritage and the golden age of liner travel.’  

Multi-disciplinary design studio forpeople, which lead the design process in elevating the livery paint proportions, finessing the iconic Cunard crest, and introducing an elegant new font to confidently present the ‘Queen Anne’ name on the ship’s bow, also joined the launch on March 23. 

‘...Alongside the Cunard team, we see ourselves as custodians of the brand – and it’s a responsibility we take very seriously,’ stated James Addison, the company’s creative director. ‘This is why we searched through the Cunard archives to ensure every detail was grounded in Cunard’s heritage yet refined and reinvented to feel timeless for future generations.’

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