After posting briefly about her a while back, I’ve been trying to find out more about Daphne Padden and her very individual poster designs.
Some of my favourites are the ones she created for British coach companies in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
They’re almost child-like in their simplicity and delight – I’ve never seen such an unthreatening bunch of Vikings out on the rampage – but are nonetheless sophisticated pieces of design.
To my surprise, although plenty of people really love her work, I couldn’t really find anything on the web about her, so I’ve been forced into doing some proper research. Sadly, what I discovered is that I’d begun just a bit too late, as she died in September last year. I really hope she knew that people liked her earlier work so much.
But I have been able to find out a few more details about her life. Daphne Padden was born on 21st May 1927, and was the daughter of Percy Padden ARCA who was both a fine artist and a poster designer himself. Here are a couple of his designs – the bus poster is from 1921, I am guessing that the railway one is from the late twenties or early thirties, but I can’t find a date.
As for most of the rest of the story, perhaps it’s best if she tells it in her own words – quite literally. This is the information which she produced for exhibitions of her work.
She worked as a graphic designer from the mid-fifties until, I think, the mid-1970s. Here are a couple of poster designs from 1956 and 1957 respectively.
As her work evolved, she developed a very sharp and distinctive graphic style, mostly created using cut-paper collage.
Here’s one of her originals.
Unfortunately the glue hasn’t aged as well as the design.
As she mentioned above, she also did some more corporate design work. Here’s some in-store display material for M&S, in a world where sell-by dates were an exciting new invention.
But sometime in the 70s, she changed direction and became a fine artist, producing wildlife paintings on a miniature scale.
These barn owls are only 6″ x 5″ in real life, and if you want to see more, her gallery has some here.
It’s not a completely surprising departure, because there are animals in quite a few of her posters, from this cat,
to this oddball collection of travellers (I am a particular fan of the mole driver).
She didn’t do much work in the last five or six years because of ill-health, and she died on 21 September 2009.
Now I have to confess that I’ve been sitting on this information for a few weeks now, because Daphne Padden’s own archive of designs and posters has been up for auction. I’m pleased to say that we did win some, but unfortunately it’s all still in transit and so I can’t show you any of them yet. So there will be another post in due course when they arrive. I’m also hoping to be in touch with some of her friends as well, in which case I will post a more extended biography when I can.
Thanks to Lincoln Joyce Fine Art and Gumersalls Solicitors for help with information, and to Allison for the borrowing once more of her Daphne Padden Flickr set.