National‘s Treasures

A new exhibition exploring poster design from 1963 to the present day opens at the National Theatre in October, and it promises to deliver some showstopping graphic design gems.

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The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other - Poster design by Michael Mayhew, Photograph by Stephen Cummiskey (2008)

Not that many institutions can truly live up to the title 'design-led' but the National Theatre is one which has clearly always held design very close to its heart. Ken Briggs was the National Theatre's first in house graphic designer, and throughout his time as head of the theatre's design studio, he produced some classic examples of poster design.

As well as pieces by Briggs, the new exhibition (which opens on 4 October) features posters designed by Richard Bird, Michael Mayhew, Charlotte Wilkinson and current creative director Ollie Winser and the Graphic Design Studio; all of whom have continued and developed Briggs‘ graphic design legacy. As the exhibition's curator Rick Poynor suggests: “Each designer has maintained a very high standard of creativity and the posters’ graphic styles have evolved to reflect the changing needs of the theatre and its audiences.”

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Glengarry Glen Ross - Poster design and illustration by Richard Bird, Photograph by Conroy-Hargrave (1983)

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Hedda Gabler - Poster design Ken Briggs and Associates (1970)

There are a series of events accompanying the exhibition – these include a lunchtime curator's tour on 27 October, Where is the Poster Now?, a talk on poster design by Poynor on 8 November, and a talk about Graphic Design at the National Theatre by the NT's Graphic Design Studio (GDS) with Ollie Winser and members of his design team on 21 November. Lastly, if you missed it the first time around, there's a chance to see Gary Hustwit's excellent feature-length film Helvetica on 27 November.

And if that wasn't enough, there's a brand new Unit Editions book to accompany the exhibition, which if past publications are anything to go by, will showcase the striking work on show beautifully.  

Book your tickets for the talks and screening here

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A Taste of Honey - Poster design by Charlotte Wilkinson, photograph by Phil Fisk (2014)

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LOVE - Poster design by the NT Graphic Design Studio, Photograph by David Stewart (2016)

National Theatre Posters
Wednesday 4 October 2017 to 31 March 2018

National Theatre
Wolfson Gallery
National Theatre
London SE1


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Richard III - Poster design Richard Bird and Michael Mayhew (1979)