Margaret Gardiner was a writer, political campaigner and arts patron. Partner of scientist John Desmond Bernal (with whom she had a son, Martin), she was a friend to many artists, including Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson. During her life she was involved in many political and peace campaigns, beginning with the anti-fascist movement in the 1930s. Born in Berlin, she moved to Britain with her family at the outbreak of World War I. After studying at Cambridge, and an initial attempt to teach, she turned her attentions to philanthropy, campaigning and building a remarkable art collection, housed at the Pier Arts Centre set up by Margaret in Stromness in the Orkneys in 1978.
This archive covers one particular campaign, which linked her appreciation of visual media with her concern about nuclear war: the Nottingham Test Campaign, which ran during autumn 1962 as a pilot study to investigate whether mass media techniques could awaken the public to the danger and imminence of nuclear war. The campaign included press advertisements, billboard posters and leaflets. Market research into public opinion on nuclear disarmament was undertaken in Nottingham and Bradford, before and after the campaign, and the results are summarised in the campaign report. During 1963, she attempted to gather support and funds for mounting the campaign on a wider scale in the run-up to the forthcoming general election. Philip Noel-Baker MP canvassed sympathetic public figures and business leaders but the campaign was not taken any further.
During the Vietnam War, Margaret organised several anti-war protests and there is some documentation of this in the collection. These included press advertisements signed by European artists, and demonstrations outside the United States Embassy in Grosvenor Square to protest against the bombing of Hanoi at Christmas 1971.