The street sign sculpture in Bromley was created in 1964 by FHK Henrion, the father of corporate branding famous for his wartime Allied propaganda designs. The restored sculpture was unveiled by international graphic artist Lakwena Maciver, whose lavish and colourful work plays with the powerful visual language of advertising and has been working with big brands like H&M – and who was inspired by Henrion’s street sculpture outside her home as a child.
Speaking to the crowd, Lakwena said:
"As a child I had always remembered this sculpture in my mind as an anchor. Because of the shape of it. And interestingly, that is one of the really significant things that art does. It anchors people. It gathers us together and can anchor us to a place. I mentioned that growing up I never felt that I belonged here. My response to that was to make art, to process it and to overcome it. And I’m still doing that. And in the process of making art I have found a place where I belong. So I guess to me this street sculpture is all about belonging, and my hope is that this sculpture is something that might continue to inspire people and connect people to each other and to this place, even those of us who might feel we don’t belong here." German Jewish designer Frederick Henri Kay Henrion (1914–1990) moved as a 22 year old first to Paris to work as a poster designer and then to Britain in 1936. He created some of the most memorable Allied wartime propaganda for the British Ministry of Information – including the iconic poster of four hands tearing the swastika apart. He also worked in 3D and in 1942 designed an exhibition for the anti-fascist ‘Artists International Association’ in a bombed site in Oxford Street, a metal sculpture of doves symbolising the Four Freedoms for which the war was being fought. “I worked about 15 hours a day every day. It was a very fulfilling time because everybody felt what you did was worth doing and needed doing.” After the war, Henrion moved into advertising and fashion, designing covers for Harper’s Bazaar. He was involved in major corporate branding projects, designing, or re-designing, the branding for KLM, British European Airways (becoming British Airways & adopting Henrion’s arrow Union Jack design), Tate + Lyle, London Electricity Board, British Leyland and Coopers & Lybrand. With a collaborator, Ian Dennis, he designed the famous National Theatre logo. “As a young artist I remember being intrigued by the idea that FHK Henrion, this very significant designer, had created such an unusual map of the estate where I lived. In this unexpected way I felt a little personal connection to a part of design history.” – Lakwena
MP for Bromley and Chislehurst, Sir Bob Neill, also attended the unveiling.
Executive Councillor for Renewal, Recreation and Housing, Yvonne Bear, said:
“We are delighted that this historic wayfinding sign, which is iconic locally and has a much wider significance from a design perspective as well, has been restored, meaning it will remain in situ for the coming years. Our thanks goes to the Heritage of London Trust and all those who helped make this possible. We know that people care about their street and the street scene, with this unique sign contributing to this locally as well.” The aluminium and steel sign was corroding with peeling paint and missing blocks and numbers. There were later poor repairs and its concrete cobble base was cracked. The project involved paint analysis, careful restoration of all the metalwork and a renewed base. Local students from Cotelands Alternative Provision and Endeavour Academy schools were involved as part of our Proud Places programme, putting up the hoarding, visiting the blacksmiths at work and creating their own ‘proud’ street maps. The project was supported by The Jones Day Foundation.