September 2021

The GPO Film Unit

Welcome to The Arts Society Great Ouse Valley
Tuesday, September 21, 2021 - 19:30

Sharnbrook Hotel, Park Lane Bedfordshire MK44 1LX

John Grierson was credited with the birth of documentary films in the 1930s and this talk looks at the many influences he had with clips from French, Victorian and Edwardian films.

It will also examine the experimental Soviet era with clips from Battleship Potemkin and Man with a Movie Camera to the 129 films produced by the GPO Film Unit in seven years, including the iconic Night Mail with poetry by W H Auden and music by Benjamin Britten.


Mr Howard Smith

Graphic Icons of the Twentieth Century is the theme of a series of lectures and Study Days by retired graphic designer Howard Smith. All are possibly in living memory or near living memory. Each lecture lasts an hour and is an in-depth fully researched exploration of extraordinary creativity sometimes in unbelievable circumstances.

Graphic Art is art for a purpose no different to the portraiture of Sir Thomas Lely or Rembrandt’s The Night Watch which were pure commercial ventures. Because subjects are recent there is a wealth of actual information to support the stories, which are both nostalgic and entertaining. All lectures are lavishly illustrated and contain vintage film clips.

Born during the Second World War, Howard was educated in Scotland and gained an MA from Trinity College, Dublin. In the 1960s he worked for UK and International advertising agencies before starting his own marketing and print company in Canterbury. His website on http://www.howardsmith.me.uk has full details. He was delighted to become an accredited lecturer of The Arts Society in 2017.

His lectures mainly cover an extraordinary fifty-year period which saw immense change, ingenuity and creativity and set the theme of 'Graphic Icons of the Twentieth Century'. A full colour 20pp brochure is available on request with no obligation.


The Pandemic has been a huge learning curve and as a result all my lectures will either be live or virtual and have an online availability for members not able to attend a live lecture or not able to watch an online Zoom lecture.


This will be as normal at the regular venue for a one hour presentation. Following the live lecture I will be supplying a Youtube link of the lecture for members unable to make the meeting or members who wish to view the presentation for a second time. The Youtube version is amended for a smaller screen and is monitored and viewing figures made available.


I have been joining a Zoom webinar at the onset, run the lecture Youtube link and answered Q&As afterwards. This has been on the Societies portal. Following the lecture, the online version will be available as for the Live lecture, above.

Please note some images in the presentation have watermarks on them to prevent copying and infringement of copyrights. I am grateful to the copyright holders to allow images etc to be incorporated in the presentations and in the main these are fulfilling the requirements of the Exclusions to Copyright 2014 (The Patent Office) applicable to charitable organisations. The lectures must not be recorded or shared as the files have embedded identification.