Monday, 13 July 2015


 I recently took part in Somerset College's Research and Scholarship Symposium. This event was an opportunity for academic and support staff to share scholarly activity from the previous academic year. My presentation was an overview of my PhD research so far, with emphasis on Elizabeth David and Stork Wives Club publications. With fifteen minutes to present my work, I had to outline as much as possible in a clear and concise manner whilst engaging the audience. The Symposium also include presentations from academics outside of the college alongside service providers affiliated to the college. The event was an ideal platform for me to share my experience as a PhD student alongside the role of a lecturer, and above all has given me further confidence to present at conferences.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015


I have been busy over the last year teaching on a variety of courses at Somerset College in Taunton.  I have taught on the BA (Hons) Graphic Design degree course alongside the Access to Higher Education course in Art and Design. Having been the  lead lecturer role on the BTEC Extended Diploma in Graphics, Media and Photography course I have seen my students work in a wide variety of mediums, including film, illustration, photography, typography and graphic design.  The FE Private View took place on the 18th June, where family and friends  were invited to see the culmination of two years work in a Final major Project. Students were given the opportunity to choose their own briefs - as diverse as a corporate identity for a Skateboard brand, a book for young children explaining Autism a film exploring the impact of domestic abuse and a dream installation.. The students have progressed to excellent universities including Falmouth, Plymouth, UWE, Arts Institute in Bournemouth and University of South Wales in a wide variety of disciplines. The images are just a small selection from both the BTEC students and Access to Art and Design students.

Snowcat Illustrated book

Diana the Huntress

Illustrations inspired by friends
Light installation using re-formed plastic.

Cross constructed using discard clay pipes found by the River Thames.

Scene from Exmoor Somerset

Sculpture inspired by Michaelangelo

Branding for Skateboard

Wednesday, 1 July 2015


I recently took part in the Social History Society Conference at Portsmouth University. My poster presentation title: 'Selling Stork:  Text and Illustration and the discourse of consumerism and product culture in the cookbooks of the Stork Cookery Service in the post-rationing era' was an overview of my current research into The Stork Cookery Service. The poster had two main focuses. Firstly it investigated the titles that were introduced to consumers under the banner of the 'Stork Wives Club' which was established following the re-introduction of margarine in 1954. It also examined the diversity of these titles in an increasingly consumerist society and the illustrations that accompanied them. With some housewives learning to cook during rationing restrictions, they required re-education in the use of ingredients such as sugar and fat. The series consisted of over 15 booklets with titles including 'Stork's Tour of Britain's Cooking,  'Feeding the Family' and 'Around the Shows with Stork'. 
Secondly, the poster also included analysis of the dialogue between employee, employer and consumer in publications, which was instrumental in understanding the development of the brand. 

The poster was well received, and the experience gave me the opportunity to meet other Post Graduate students within a similar field.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015


Firstly, I want to apologise for not posting sooner, but my research has been continuing, whilst I have been teaching on FE and HE courses at Somerset College. Since my last post, I have spent a considerable amount of time interviewing ladies from Somerset WI on their experiences of using cookbooks and speaking to illustrators who worked on cookbooks.

Most recently, I traveled to Surrey to interview Juliet Renny, who illustrated Elizabeth David's 1960 cookbook - French Provincial Cooking.
Juliet was in her early twenties, and a student at Guildford School of Art and Design. She kindly showed me a wide variety of drawings made for the book, and explained her methods of creating these iconic illustrations. 

Here are a selection of drawings made for the book, which were painstakingly rendered in Elizabeth David's home at Halsey Street in London.

Renny continued to illustrate cookbooks, and one particular example is for Rosemary Hume's The Cordon Bleu cookbook in 1963 and later First Steps in the Kitchen: Recipes for Young Beginners by Maureen O Connor in 1972. She also illustrated cookbooks for Zena Skinner.

Friday, 15 August 2014


It has been a while since I have posted any updates, but I have been very busy with my research.
Back in May I visited the Unilever Archive at Port Sunlight where I specifically examined their Stork Publications. Holding a wide variety of literature, important to my research, I was able to examine less widely available books and leaflets that often contained illustrations.Unfortunately many illustrators were not acknowledged, therefore it is very difficult to ascertain the artist and often the year.
Lever House Port Sunlight
The collection was varied and also included a record of the employees journal 'The Stork' a magazine produced by Van Der Berghs from 1949 containing articles often about employees of the Stork Brand, The Stork Margarine Cookery Service at trade shows, recipes (with Stork margarine of course) and behind the scenes accounts of advertising campaigns. This particular publication gave me an insight into the lives' of Unilever employees, and the importance of Stork in the post rationing era. As an insight into a specific brand, widely used and distributed in the post war era, it is easy to understand the continuing popularity of a brand, that has changed little over time, remaining a central product in everyday baking. As a result I am continuing to add to my collection of Stork publications as illustrated with the collection of books produced for The Stork Wives Club.
Collection of books produced for the Stork Wives Club

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


Having successfully negotiated the feedback and comments from the ATR committee, I am happy to say that it is all systems go! With only a few minor adjustments, my PhD proposal is pretty much in the hard bit!

Having spent the last six months, researching literature, and immersing myself in academia (well sort of) I am finally finding my feet so to speak!

The journey so far, has taken me to the subjects of Philosophy (Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin), Second Wave Feminism (Betty Friedlan) and Product Branding (Stork, McDougalls).

It is the area of branding that I am most interested in and Stork in particular. The Stork Cookery Service, developed in 1954, sought to reinvent basic recipes, in the post-rationing era and in 1956 The Stork Wives Club was launched and by the end of the year had 191 000 members. The club offered advice on cooking and catering.

As part of my research,  I have developed a keen interest in the books that accompanied The Stork Cookery Service. Not only are they attractive, easy to use and manageable, but fairly sought after.

As a direct result of my research,  I will be visiting the Unilever Archive at Port Sunlight in May 2014 to study in more detail, the production of such publications. Stay tuned for an update on my progress and visit to the archive!