Announcing a new Opening Up Archives exhibition: Who were the Aero Girls? Discovering Hidden Art in the Archives

Posted on 10 September 2013

This is the second event in our Opening Up Archives programme being curated by our National Archives trainees Kerstin Doble and Francesca Taylor.

Aero Girl advert 1955 R_Guardbooks_S10

Part of Chocolate Week 2013, the exhibition is on show at Mansion House, York from Saturday 12 to Sunday 20 October.

Researchers at University of York’s Borthwick Institute have been investigating an enigmatic collection of 1950s portraits known as the Aero Girls. Originally commissioned for use in Aero chocolate advertising 1951-1957, these paintings will be on show for the first time since leaving Rowntree’s factory. The exhibition documents the Borthwick Institute’s journey to unwrap the mysteries and unearth new information about these little-known artworks.

Anna. Alice. Wendy. The Country Girl. The Art Student. Were these fictitious characters or were they real women?“We hope that the exhibition helps to uncover new stories about the Aero Girls”, said our researchers. “Who were the women? What happened to the paintings that are missing from this collection?”

Nestlé archivist Alex Hutchinson comments that “Britain was still in the grips of post-war austerity and the extravagant works of art acted as an antidote to the stylised public information posters of wartime.” Artists Anthony Devas, Henry Marvell Carr, Vasco Lazzolo, Norman Hepple and Fleetwood Walker all took part in the campaign, and the show features a special focus on the only living artist, Frederick Dean RP.

The show also opens up Mansion House, York for a fascinating peek into the Chocolate ‘powerhouse’ which saw members of both the Rowntree’s and Terry family reign as Mayor of York.

We look forward to welcoming you to Mansion House.

Who were the Aero Girls? Discovering Hidden Art in the Archives takes place at the Mansion House, St Helen’s Square, York from Saturday 12 to Sunday 20 October, from 11am – 4pm daily (closed Tuesday 15 October). Free entry for York residents with a valid York Card. 

With kind permission of Nestlé UK.