Architecture as Public Art: Buildings on British Stamps

St Andrew's, Greensted-juxta-Ongar, Essex stamp, 1972

St Andrew's, Greensted-juxta-Ongar, Essex stamp, part of the Village Churches issue designed by Ronald Maddox (1972). And Brian Goodey's favourite stamp.

The conclusion to our Open Day in December last year was a talk given by Professor Brian Goodey, the recently retired Chairman of our Board of Trustees. This talk is now available as a podcast.

Brian Goodey is Professor Emeritus in the Joint Centre for Urban Design at Oxford Brookes University, and his research interests include the evolution of the British townscape and the role of electronic media in re-shaping understandings of place and heritage. He writes on aspects of urban development, and on the role of the artist in public settings. In addition Professor Goodey is an “accumulator of stamps”, and an admirer of the graphic artists who make them. His (dare we call it a) collection is focused on the buildings and structures which have appeared on stamps in both Great Britain and the rest of the world.

In his talk, Professor Goodey gave a personal view on architecture as depicted on British stamps in the last few decades. Introducing the talk he said:

I maintain the belief that stamps are produced as a reflection of design and image change within society, but their appearance is in every way political, and that aside from the stamp production industry they represent a government intention to influence the thinking of, potentially, every member of that society, and the recipients of stamps mailed elsewhere. Simply stated, buildings on stamps are intended to promote the work of architects, builders and developers, and to focus society on vernacular, historic or contemporary design.

There is a caveat here, certainly policies over the period I’ve looked at, which is really to 2006, have changed considerably. Certainly, there was an interesting period of “Cool Britannia” under Mr Blair, and various periods of retrenchment to tradition to sober-up for a while – and some of these will appear.

Professor Goodey feels there is an opportunity to “nation build through the post”, which is fast diminishing as stamp use declines. Do you agree with him? Listen to or download the podcast from our website or iTunes, and leave your comments here.

2 responses to “Architecture as Public Art: Buildings on British Stamps

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Architecture as Public Art: Buildings on British Stamps | The British Postal Museum & Archive -- Topsy.com

  2. Dr. Diane Clark

    I am in total agreement with Professor Goodey. Postage (stamps) and philatelic materials of all nature to move the post are propaganda statements by definition. This is not an indictment, but rather a statement of fact.

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