This iconic Queensland poster design is one of James Northfield's finest achievements, capturing Australia's burgeoning sense of confidence and vigour in the 1930s within the form of an idealised sun-soaked bather. Counterpart and equal to the legendary photographs produced by Max Dupain in the 30s such as Sunbaker (1935) and Bondi (1939), today this design elegantly symbolises the enthusiasm of a nation forging a unique national identity independent of its British heritage.
The pose of the figure, with it's idealised proportions and classical poise, calls to mind a number of historical precedents, from ancient Greek sculpture to the politically-charged symbolism of Leni Riefenstahl's work in the 30s. Northfield confidently brings these influences to bear, creating a seamless blend of figure, landscape and typography.
Among a wealth of amazing design achievements in this piece, Northfield's deft approach to landscape is particularly striking. Careful observers will note the brilliantly economical patches of colour denoting the Coolangatta foreshore and its beachfront bathers. Those familiar with the location today will no doubt also be struck also by nascent state of development, yet another aspect of this design's status as an important historic document. If you're in any doubt about the wealth of authentic detail in this print, look for 'talkies' among the list of regional attractions!
A true classic image of Australia, this poster will certainly stimulate discussion, and for those expatriate Australians living abroad, will probably stimulate just a little envy among your foreign friends due to the carefree lifestyle and natural charm depicted as national traits!
© All Northfield images courtesy of James Northfield Heritage Art Trust
Text © Vintage Portfolio
Vintage Portfolio is Australia's leading producer of vintage travel posters and advertising posters from the 1930s, 1940s and beyond. The collection includes key designs by James Northfield, Australia's best-loved graphic artist of the era. We also carry a collection of modern subjects which lovingly revive the charm of 20th Century art and design.