Shell Heritage Art Collection News

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. If you do not have a Twitter account you may send your vote by email 

The first selection is 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.

For our first poll we are asking our audience to complete our first short list from the following three posters:

Shell poster number 416, Antiquaries prefer Shell (1934) by Clifford and Rosemary Ellis. Painting of antique artifacts and books.

Poll 1 Choice 1 – Poster 416 ‘Antiquaries prefer Shell’ 1934 by Clifford and Rosemary Ellis

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

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

Shell poster number 448, Tourists Prefer Shell by Tristram Hillier. Painting of a beach scene, the sea is in the background with a galleon type ship sailing by. A white cliff with a lighthouse is in the background. There are brightly coloured and patterned beach huts on the shoreline. There is a table at the forefront of the picture showing various tourist paraphernalia, including a map.

Poll 1 Choice 3 – Poster 448 ‘Tourists prefer Shell’ 1936 by Tristram Hillier


Winner of Poll 1: Choice 2, Poster 430 ‘Motorists prefer Shell’ 1935 by J S Anderson

We will be creating more polls throughout the year so don’t forget to come back and vote!

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

In March 2017 the exhibition Spot On! British posters of the interwar years was reinstalled at the Uni­versity of Copenhagen, Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics (NorS).  The exhibition, containing many original Shell posters,  continues in 2019 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

This August, 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