Saucy seaside postcards exhibition opens

October 4, 2011 by  

An exhibition featuring postcards that were banned over 50 years ago for being too saucy has opened in Kent.

The exhibition is being held at the University of Kent, in association with the British Cartoon Archive and features postcards by the likes of famed postcard artist, Donald McGill. The postcards are tame by today’s standards of decency, but in the 1950s were considered risqué enough to be banned by the government. Donald McGill was fined £50 for breaking obscenity laws.

Most of the postcards feature innuendos and images of buxom beauties on British beaches and have a very ‘tongue in cheek’ sense of humour. The curator of the exhibition, Nick Hiley, said:

“When you look at the postcards today, they look so innocent and people get nostalgic about them. They have quickly been redefined as art and something to celebrate and preserve. Not only are many of the cards still amusing, but they represent a landmark in social and legal history.”

Over 16 million postcards were sold every year in the 1950s, making it a lucrative time to work in postcard printing.

Poole, Margate, Blackpool – whatever the resort, postcards have always been on sale at the great British seaside and this new exhibition shows postcards in a new light, as both a form of art and a reflection of society in general. The postcards have been reproduced in digital formats are are set to be made freely available via the British Cartoon Archive website.

The exhibition runs until 13th November at the University of Kent.