Saturday 29 November 2008

Frank Bellamy welcomes you aboard BOAC

I am always on the lookout for any new Frank Bellamy information. Thus I keep alerts providing updates from all over the web. I had a fantastic surprise when a search I had been doing for many years, said "BOAC's in-flight magazine Welcome Aboard"

I had a reference to Bellamy's BOAC work, but no idea what it was. I knew he had provided some illustrations for a poster to be used at Farnborough Air Show in 1970 and at the same time he did some BOAC work. I wondered whether the two references had got mixed up, as often happens when dealing with memories of 38 years ago - including my own! But getting back to that alert...

"The Visual Arts Data Service (VADS) is the online resource for visual arts. It has provided services to the academic community for 11 years and has built up a considerable portfolio of visual art collections comprising over 100,000 images that are freely available and copyright cleared for use in teaching, learning and research in the UK."

One such service is the digitisation of Design magazine from 1965 -1974. DESIGN was published by the Council of Industrial Design, 28 Haymarket, London SW1 4SU. As luck would have it, one of the articles in this archive is titled: "Flight reading" in the issue dated 1st October 1971.

"So is this where Bellamy's work appeared?" I hear you ask. Sort of, is the answer!

The article written by Doug Blain is on pages 48 - 53 and deals with the history of the publication of the bi-monthly in-flight magazine "Welcome Aboard" given out on BOAC flights.

The most amazing coincidence - and why I chased this down - was that in illustrating this obscure article, 8 spreads were chosen as examples of the design work. Amongst those by Bellamy's contemporaries Charles Raymond, Pauline Ellison, Alan Aldridge, Nicholas Thirkell and Alan Cracknell (some of whom, like Bellamy, had illustrations in the Radio Times) appears one by, on close inspection, Frank himself!

Unfortunately the article tells us "John Adams in Birth of a nation" is by Bellamy but not in which of the "Welcome Aboard" (published bi-monthly since 1968) it appears.

Here life's serendipity intervenes. I set up a search immediately on eBay and just two weeks later what appears but a rare "Welcome Aboard" booklet. The answer to my question came back "yes, there is an article on 'John Adams in Birth of a nation' in it". Imagine my joy on receiving my win!

I have scanned the cover of "Welcome Aboard" - not shown in the article mentioned above - as well as a scan of "John Adams in Birth of a nation"

I realise that our American friends hold Adams in very high regard, so I hope they'll forgive Bellamy entertainingly portraying him as a semi-superhero in the last panel! But also notice that whoever wrote the script spelled 'Harbor' in the American way

Frank Bellamy art appears on pp20-21

Cover by Tony Meeuwissen

I'm off to lie down now - too much excitement for one day.

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