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Student Showcase Archive

Jessica Kelly

MA work

MA work

Positive Health: The Design of Hospitals and Health Education Material in 1930s England

My interest in the history of design is based on a curiosity about different sources and using them to expand historical narratives. This has remained a focus of my work on the course which included essays on war memorials and theories of style in design.

This dissertation began as a question about the design that surrounded health in Britain, before the introduction of the National Health Service. It has developed into a discussion of the ways in which changing notions of what health was, who was responsible for it and the relationship between design and health, coalesced in the appearance and the function of hospitals and of health education material during the 1930s. Throughout the dissertation the term positive health is used to describe these changing perceptions of health, design and responsibility, which are shown to have been constructed and expressed through the sources.

From the end of the First World War, hospitals were changing from the pavilion style of the 19th century, to buildings in which sunlight and fresh air were promoted through balconies and large expanses of window. Simultaneously, health education material changed from the two penny pamphlets of, for example, the Ladies Sanitary Institute, to films, exhibitions and posters that amounted to a national campaign. Did these changes mark the arrival of Modernism in English design or the march toward the National Health Service in 1948? I argue that in fact these design changes were both a cause and a consequence of a complex form of English modernity.

Info

Info

  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Humanities

    Programme

    MA History of Design, 2007

  • Positive Health: The Design of Hospitals and Health Education Material in 1930s England

    My interest in the history of design is based on a curiosity about different sources and using them to expand historical narratives. This has remained a focus of my work on the course which included essays on war memorials and theories of style in design.

    This dissertation began as a question about the design that surrounded health in Britain, before the introduction of the National Health Service. It has developed into a discussion of the ways in which changing notions of what health was, who was responsible for it and the relationship between design and health, coalesced in the appearance and the function of hospitals and of health education material during the 1930s. Throughout the dissertation the term positive health is used to describe these changing perceptions of health, design and responsibility, which are shown to have been constructed and expressed through the sources.

    From the end of the First World War, hospitals were changing from the pavilion style of the 19th century, to buildings in which sunlight and fresh air were promoted through balconies and large expanses of window. Simultaneously, health education material changed from the two penny pamphlets of, for example, the Ladies Sanitary Institute, to films, exhibitions and posters that amounted to a national campaign. Did these changes mark the arrival of Modernism in English design or the march toward the National Health Service in 1948? I argue that in fact these design changes were both a cause and a consequence of a complex form of English modernity.

  • Experience

  • Lecturer in Fashion History, University of the Creative Arts, Rochester, 2006-7; Internship with Archivist, Archive of Art and Design, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2004; Work Experience, Heinz Library and Archive, National Portrait Gallery, London, 2001-2
  • Awards

  • Winner, Clive Wainwright Memorial Prize, 2006