Shell Heritage Art Collection News Archive

Shell poster auction to raise funds for the National Motor Museum Trust

Duplicate Shell posters from the Shell Heritage Art Collection will be sold by Shell Brands International in a charity auction this April, to raise funds for the National Motor Museum Trust at Beaulieu.

International auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull, in partnership with poster experts Tomkinson Churcher, will present Design on the Move: Selected Posters from the Shell Heritage Art Collection at the Mall Galleries in London, as part of their Modern Made sale. The specialist auction will consist of 49 lots of original posters from the 1930s and 1950s.


The Shell Heritage Art Collection Manager, Nicky Balfour Penney said: ‘We are pleased to be offering these iconic Shell posters for auction to raise vital funds for the National Motor Museum Trust to support its world class collections and displays in the National Motor Museum. Featuring some of our most popular works in excellent condition, this is a rare opportunity not to be missed.’

Director of Collections & Engagement at the Museum, Andrea Bishop, said: ‘The National Motor Museum has enjoyed a long and successful partnership with Shell and an association with the wonderful Shell Heritage Art Collection. We are hugely appreciative of this generous contribution to our fund-raising, especially during these difficult times. Releasing a limited number of these beautiful posters for auction is an exciting opportunity for buyers to acquire them and a real boost for the work of the National Motor Museum Trust.’

The posters offered for sale are all Lorry Bills which were attached to the sides and backs of Shell lorries, delivering oil and petrol to customers all over the country.  From the 1920s to the 1950s, Shell commissioned some powerful advertising campaigns. The company realised early on that its advertisements promoted not only petrol and oil but also motoring, and motoring meant special pleasures – exhilaration, freedom and the joys of the countryside.

Commissioned by Jack Beddington, who had a keen eye for young talent, the list of artists reads like a Who’s Who of the British art establishment of the period – Ben Nicholson, Graham Sutherland, Edward McKnight Kauffer and Paul Nash. Beddington’s ability to give young contemporary artists a platform to produce original advertisements made the campaigns of his era a great success.

This wonderful collection tells the history of British art from the period and gives us many examples of different styles and influences, from Vorticism to Surrealism. It also illustrates the story of how motoring transformed the lives of Britons, opening up the countryside to middle class urban dwellers.

Design on the Move: Selected Posters from the Shell Heritage Art Collection is part of Lyon & Turnbull’s DESIGN series, celebrating 150 years of design across four UK auctions. The works from the Shell Heritage Art Collection will be on view at throughout April, and in The Mall Galleries in London from 27 April before the live online auction on 29 April.

To find out more watch the talk given by the Shell Heritage Art Collection Manager, Nicky Balfour Penney to members of the Beaulieu 100. Nicky discusses the Collection, its unique association with the National Motor Museum Trust and provides insights into her favourite Shell advertising posters being offered for sale.

Jeremy Gardiner – South by Southwest
St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery

Artist Jeremy Gardiner with his painting and Shell poster The Great Globe

We are happy to loan three posters to this new exhibition – Jeremy is inspired by the natural world and from popular views of the coastal landscape in travel posters such as ours, guide books, postcards and ViewMaster reels, which will be featured in the show alongside his beautiful artworks. These works are created from painting, collaging, scouring and sanding down of the materials to create highly textured landscapes.

Images of these can be seen on Jeremy’s website . A new book, published by Sansom & Company,  titled ‘South by South West’ has also been written to accompany the exhibition which will open in Falmouth Art Gallery at a date to be confirmed.

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.”

Summer Activities – Prize Winner Awards

Lord Montague with Creative Fun competition winners in the National Motor MuseumIn August 2019, visitors to the National Motor Museum took part in a range of ‘drop in’ creative summer activities inspired by the 90th anniversary of Golden Arrow breaking the land speed record.

Sponsored by the Shell Heritage Art Collection and the Caravan and Motorhome Club, families were inspired by our collections and discovered how a need for speed has influenced design, technology and entertainments before and since Golden Arrow’s record breaking run.

Participants entered their fabulous creations into the Creative Fun Competition to win great prizes.  Of the four competition categories, these were won by:

Levi age 9, for the best thaumatrope chosen by the NMMT.

Harrison age 6, for the best test your nerve game chosen by SHAC.

Jenna age 6, for the best build your own caravan chosen by CAMC.

Harry age 6, for the favourite creation chosen by Beaulieu’s Facebook page visitors.

The competition winners were awarded their prizes by Lord Montagu at a special ceremony in the National Motor Museum before the Fireworks Spectacular in autumn 2019.

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.

News from 2018

Prize winners 2018 – Creative Fun at the National Motor Museum

Creative fun competition entry
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.

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

In 2018 we celebrated 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.

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)

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 announced that a new poster had been commissioned on the enduring Shell theme of ‘Visit Britain’.  More details can be found here

Votes for Women

Shell Postcard, Votes for Women, Suffragettes (1908). Caption reads 'Every lady votes Shell - motor spirit unequalled' and shows a suffragette holding up a can of Shell Motor Spirit, whilst women in the crowd raise their hands. Artist not given.
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 Centre

History 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