Scottish-born and Manchester-based artist Jenny Steele creates works that reference 20th century architecture and interiors, exploring post-colonial, post-industrial and modernist sites.

Since early 2015, she has been working on Looking Back | Moving Forward, a research and development project exploring 1930s modernist seafront architecture in the north west of England and Scotland.

The resulting body of work, for which she received an Arts Council England Grants for the Arts Research and Development Award, is currently being exhibited in her solo show An Architecture of Joy at the Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool.

Works such as The Sea Breeze Was The Cure reference ‘Seaside Moderne’ architecture, a style of modernist architecture built in the 1930s during the leisure boom between World War’s I and II. It referenced the curved design of ocean liners, the characteristics of Art Deco, plus more decorative, excessive and floral elements.

Steele’s research took in the RIBA Archive and the Victoria and Albert Museum Archive in London, and the Whitworth’s Textile and Wallpaper Collections in Manchester, where she investigated drawings and documents relating to the design of The Midland Hotel, Morecambe.

At the V&A, Steele researched examples of textiles by Marion Dorn, who designed carpets and interior details for The Midland Hotel, as well as Eileen Hunter, another female interior designer working in the 1930s who furnished the interiors of Art Moderne buildings.

At the Whitworth, Steele looked at examples of 1930s interior design from the textile designers Otti Berger and Gunta Stölzl of the Bauhaus, Germany, and UK based designers, Marian Mahler and Lucienne Day.

From this visual research, Steele created not only drawings and prints but also sculptural works.

An Architecture of Joy runs until 13 August 2016 at Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool.

The Legacy of Seaside Moderne: Steele will host a discussion event at the gallery, 3 August 2016, 5.30pm- 8pm. Invited speakers include Fred Gray, author of Designing the Seaside; Ted Lightbown, Blackpool and Fylde Historian; and Stephen Marland, architectural Photographer. Free but booking required.

1. Jenny Steele, The Sea Breeze Was The Cure, 2016
2. Jenny Steele, The Sea Breeze Was The Cure, 2016 (installation shot). Photo: Dave Barton
3. Jenny Steele, The Apotheosis of Contemporary Design, 2016 (installation shot). Photo Dave Barton
4. Jenny Steele, The Casino, 2016
5. Jenny Steele, A Restorative Resort, 2016
6. The Apotheosis of Contemporary Design, 2016 (installation shot). Photo Dave Barton
7. The Apotheosis of Contemporary Design, 2016 (installation shot). Photo Dave Barton

More on

Pomona Zipser, Yaşasin, work in progress, 2016

Forest art works: new commissions, renewed partnership


Hurvin Anderson, painter

A Q&A with… Hurvin Anderson, painter


Ryan Gander, La Joute, hand painted room numbers rendered in ‘Milliganhand’, a typeface made by appropriating every character from the handwriting of Spike Milligan, 2016.

NOW SHOWING #156: The week’s top exhibitions