Barbara Jones Archive

Scope and Content

The archive comprises material from the estate of Barbara Jones; material relating to 'The Life and Works of Barbara Jones [1912-1978]' by B C Bloomfield; and material from various other sources.

The material from the estate of Barbara Jones largely relates to the exhibition 'Black Eyes and Lemonade'.

B C Bloomfield's research for 'The Life and Works of Barbara Jones [1912-1978]' includes a broad range of material, including a copy of a programme for the Croydon School of Art prize distribution in 1932 and anecdotes from people who knew Barbara Jones.

There is material relating to the Festival of Britain; V&A commemorative exhibitions 'A Tonic to the Nation', for the 25th anniversary of the Festival of Britain and an exhibition for the 50th anniversary of the 'Recording Britain' project; and 'Paintings and drawings', an exhibition of Barbara Jones's work at Katharine House Gallery, Marlborough.

Records include correspondence, typescripts of BBC broadcasts; images of murals; and writings by and about Barbara Jones, including handwritten manuscripts.

Administrative / Biographical History

Barbara Jones was a designer, writer, painter and illustrator. She studied mural decoration at the Royal College of Art from 1933-1937, where she became associated with a circle of British artists and illustrators which included Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden, Edward Ardizzone and John Piper. During the Second World War she was among the few women employed by the "Recording Britain" scheme, painting Britain"s natural and architectural heritage.

Jones was commissioned to make murals for the exhibition "Britain Can Make It" (1946) and the Festival of Britain (1951), and, through the influence of James Gardner, the new Commonwealth Institute building in London in 1962. She also created murals for a number of hotels, restaurants, exhibitions and schools, as well as a series of major works for P&O liners between 1948 and 1960.

As a graphic designer, writer and broadcaster, Jones championed the popular arts. Her exhibition "Black Eyes and Lemonade", held at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1951, and her book "The Unsophisticated Arts" of the same year remain landmarks in the appreciation of vernacular English culture and the popular arts. They are part of a large body of book work, some of which she wrote, while others bore her illustrations or jacket designs.

Barbara Jones lived in Hampstead, and died in 1978, aged 66.


It has been arranged in the following sub-fonds:

BJO/1 Material from the estate of Barbara Jones

BJO/2 Material relating to 'The Life and Works of Barbara Jones [1912-1978]' by B C Bloomfield

BJO/3 Material from various sources

Access Information

Researchers wishing to consult the collection should make an appointment. Telephone 44 (0)1273 643217 or email

Acquisition Information

See each subfonds for details.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

typescript, ink and pencil on paper; typescript on card; black and white, colour and sepia photographs; postcards; adhesive on stamp and envelope

Archivist's Note

Collection level record created by Catherine Moriarty, 2009, and amplified by Sue Breakell, March 2010

Conditions Governing Use

Permission must be sought to publish any material from the collection. Email


Further material may accrue from the estate of Barbara Jones.


Selected publications by Barbara Jones in the field of popular arts. For a more comprehensive list of books which she wrote or contributed to, see

Jones, Barbara 'The Unsophisticated Arts' (London: Architectural Press, 1951)

- - 'Follies and Grottoes' (London: Constable & Co, 1953)

- - 'Design for Death' (London: Andre Deutsch, 1967)