The Sign of the Times exhibition at the Protein Gallery was a celebration of one of the most important and long lasting graphic design jobs fiftieth birthday. Not only have these designs saved thousands of lives, but as a female graphic design student, the work of Margaret Calvert will always be inspiring during the late 50s-60s. Though her designs were created half a century ago they are still used as road signs as people understand the visual image with out text.
The exhibition began as a competition to create an alternative to the elderly road sign, as the ambiguity of the original sign may be read differently after time. Over 200 designs were submitted from artists, illustrators and designers ranging from Milton Glaser to Oliviero Toscani. In the end, only 100 designs were used, the signs were then auctioned off to raise a total of £7,500 which will go to Age UK charity.
It also displayed Calvert’s new design of her original, in which the elderly woman is leading the man, making a point of how the role of women have changed over time as it was the opposite in the original design. Simple and brilliant I really loved this design and it showed me even a small change can make such a difference.
I think my dad is still a spring chicken at heart.
Though many other designers went for a sort of Quentin Tarantino humoured approach the incentive was clear through their use of imagery.
The exhibition was beautifully set up in a way that suited its topic and all the work was fantastic. The only really frustrating part of this exhibition was the lack of work from female artists or designers. As Margaret Calvert is such a huge influence for female artists in particular, I was shocked when looking at the list of names of work that had been selected that out of 100 people, only 4 or 5 female names were listed.