Shell Heritage Art Collection News

Oak Lodge Poster Art Project

Pupils of Oak Lodge, a Specialist Arts College for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities have been working with the Shell Heritage Art Collection at the National Motor Museum Trust, Beaulieu for the last six months. The schools nurturing and therapeutic learning environment encourages creative learning and they were really pleased to be invited to work on this collaborative project to create a contemporary transport poster inspired by the Shell collection.

Pupils visited the Shell exhibition at Beaulieu to view the iconic posters, find out about some of the artists involved and learn the history of Shells advertising. They also looked closely at some of the museums vehicles such as the 1907 Gobron Brillie fire engine, the 1901 Columbia Electric and Willy’s Jeep. The students, who come from the New Forest based school, have a range of needs including Autistic Spectrum Condition; social, communication and sensory needs; severe, moderate and specific learning difficulties and mental health needs. Supported by Oak Lodge staff their day at the museum also included sketching in the gardens, viewing the Abbey and Palace House.




On their return to school pupils used their sketches and photographs to work and develop ideas in their sketch books, which all contributed to their GCSE Art coursework.  They then explored a range of different media to produce their final designs from printmaking, textiles, painting to drawing.  The finished artworks were placed within the traditional Shell poster frames with the pupils carefully considering the wording, style and colour of the text to complete their poster graphics.




Shell Heritage Art Collection Manager, Nicky Balfour Penney, said

“It was a real privilege to meet and work with these young adults, the diversity and skill shown in their finished artwork is so impressive, they have executed the brief we gave them brilliantly. We very much look forward to working with pupils from Oak Lodge again in future collaborations.”

People Prefer – help us select your favourite posters for exhibition

Shell poster number 1, Five cans SHELL (1920) by Shell Studio. A simple but striking design showing five petrol cans pouring into the letters SHELL.As part of our centenary exhibition in 2020, The Art of Advertising: 100 Years of the Shell Poster  we want you, our audience, to choose your favourite poster to be included in the display. Throughout the year ahead we will be running a series of polls on social media. The results of the selected posters will be listed on this page.

Please follow us on our Twitter page to take part in the polls.

The first selections are for our theme ‘People Prefer’ a very popular campaign that ran through the 1930s. Posters would have been displayed on the side of delivery lorries transporting cans of fuel to customers across the country.

Theatre-Goers, Farmers, Blondes and Brunettes, Policemen and Pilots, plus many other professions and hobbyists – all used Shell. A bold statement portrayed in a variety of styles by leading artists of the decade including John Armstrong, Ben Nicholson, Graham Sutherland, Tristram Hillier, Edward McKnight Kauffer and Charles Mozley.

Poll results for each category are below:

People Prefer Campaign:

Shell poster number 430, Motorists Prefer Shell, by J.S. Anderson. Painting/drawing of various car components, including pistons.

Poll 1 winner, Choice 2 -Poster 430 ‘Motorists prefer Shell’ 1935 by J S Anderson

Shell poster number 404, Gardeners Prefer Shell by Sir Cedric Morris. Painting of various bright flowers, including poppies, irises and lilies.

Poll 2 winner, Choice 1 – Poster 404 ‘Gardeners Prefer Shell’ 1934 by Sir Cedric Morris


Our next few polls are to choose our favourite artists by showcasing some of their most iconic posters for Shell:

Poster of Walton Castle Somerset, 1936, Edward Bawden

Poll 3 winner, Choice 1 – Poster 474 ‘Walton Castle’, 1936 by Edward Bawden

Shell poster number 515, Guardsmen use Shell by Ben Nicholson. Painting of a guard in a bear skin busby with a palace in the background.Poll 4 equal winner, Choice 2 Poster 515 ‘Guardsmen use Shell’, 1938 by Ben Nicholson

Poll 4 equal winner, Choice 3 Poster 375 ‘The Vale of Aylesbury’, 1933 by Rex Whistler

Shell poster number 537, May to October - Summer Shell (1939) by Edward McKnight Kauffer. Painting of a summer boater style hat lying in grass with yellow butterfly.Poll 5 equal winner, Choice 2 Poster 537 ‘May to October Summer Shell’, 1939 by Edward McKnight Kauffer

Shell poster number 330, St Ives, Huntingdon by Duncan Grant. Painting of a bridge at St Ives in a cartoon like style, visible through the bridge are buildings and boats.Poll 5 equal winner, Choice 3 Poster 330 ‘St Ives Huntingdon’, 1932 by Duncan Grant

Shell poster number 499, Chanter's Folly, Appledore by Clifford and Rosemary Ellis. Landscape painting of Chanter's Folly and dry dock, showing a church and boat in the distance.

Poll 6 winner, Choice 2 Poster 499 ‘Chanter’s Folly Appledore’, 1937, Clifford & Rosemary Ellis

Coming up in 2020 – The Art of Advertising: 100 Years of the Shell poster

This unique centenary exhibition celebrates the Shell Lorry Bill through the display of 100 Lorry Bills from the Collection, alongside original paintings, film and memorabilia, and digital online content. The content will focus on the Golden Age of the poster, during the interwar years, and is co-ordinated by theme to encapsulate the illustrious breadth of the Lorry Bills. It considers the impact that the Lorry Bills have had upon the history of British commercial posters and reflects how people interact with and interpret the Lorry Bills today.

University of Copenhagen learning from Poster Exhibition

photograph of Spot On! British posters of the interwar years at Copenhagen University.
Spot On! British posters of the interwar years at Copenhagen University. Image credit: Line Hjorth Christensen

Continuing through 2019 the exhibition Spot On! British posters of the interwar years was reinstalled at the Uni­versity of Copenhagen, Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics (NorS).  Originally curated in March 2017 the exhibition displays many original Shell posters,  and is still very popular with staff and students.

The exhibition was included in a BA course on cul­tural mediation, prompting new co-curated activities, a student-made catalogue plus a caption-writing project.  The curatorial process included installing a newly added section on Danish posters from the interwar years. Short videos/spots of the exhibition were also filmed and edited by students as part of the course curriculum.

Prize winners – Creative Fun at the National Motor Museum

Hugo Cracroft aged 8, winning poster for the favourite creation chosen by Beaulieu’s Facebook page visitors
Hugo Cracroft aged 8, winning poster for the favourite creation chosen by Beaulieu’s Facebook page visitors

In August 2018,  visitors to the National Motor Museum took part in a range of creative summer activities.

These were inspired by our one-year project, The Drive for Change, commemorating 100 years since The Representation of the People Act was passed, allowing some women, and all men, to vote for the first time.

Sponsored by the Shell Heritage Art Collection and the Caravan and Motorhome Club, families were inspired by our Collections to discover how the use of cars and caravans became central to spreading the message of the Suffrage campaign in the early twentieth century.

The winners received  their prizes from the Shell Heritage Art Collection and National Motor Museum at a prize giving ceremony at the National Motor Museum Beaulieu on the day of the annual Fireworks Spectacular. You can see our top prize winners here

25 years of Shell Heritage Art Collection at the National Motor Museum

Photograph of Prince Michael (centre), Lord Montagu (left) and John Collins from Shell
Prince Michael (centre), Edward Lord Montagu (left) and John Collins, Chairman of Shell (image credit: Southern Daily Echo)

This year we celebrate 25 years since the Shell Heritage Art Collection arrived at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu. Previously stored at Shell-Mex House in London, the Collection was officially inaugurated at Beaulieu by Prince Michael of Kent on the 21st May 1993.

The National Motor Museum’s Director of Collections, Andrea Bishop said “During the past 25 years the National Motor Museum Trust’s relationship with Shell has proven invaluable in helping us deliver engaging displays and activities for our visitors. The wonderful imagery in the Shell Heritage Art Collection complements the Museum’s world renowned Collection, adding colour and vibrancy to the way we tell the story of motoring here at Beaulieu. We look forward to the next chapter of this highly successful collaboration”.

To celebrate the 25 year anniversary of this important relationship between the National Motor Museum and the Shell Heritage Art Collection we are delighted to announce that a new poster has been commissioned on the enduring Shell theme of ‘Visit Britain’.  More details can be found here

Votes for Women

Shell Postcard, Votes for Women 1908, Suffragettes 1908
Shell Postcard, Votes for Women, 1908

The UK’s Vote 100 project marks the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, which gave the first votes for women. The change was bought about by the Suffragette movement, led by strong women.

To celebrate this event in 2018 The Shell Heritage Art Collection will be highlighting female artists from our collection who have played strong, prominent roles in their professions of commercial and fine art.

Find out more on our Votes for Women blog page




Drive for Change online exhibition

A group of students carrying out research in The National Motor Museum Collections CentreHistory undergraduate students from the University of Southampton have recently been researching the Shell Heritage Art Collection, the Caravan and Motorhome Club Collection and the National Motor Museum Trust collection. Their brief was to explore the role of motoring in the women’s suffrage movement and the inspirational stories of those who were involved.

One of the outcomes of this project is the Drive for Change online exhibition curated and written by the undergraduates.




If you would like a copy of any of our images, please visit our dedicated Motoring Picture Library website