Travelling exhibition has a homely appeal

June 26, 1951 | Filed under: Yorkshire Observer

THE Festival of Britain Land Exhibition in Leeds will appeal to the man in the street. Unlike its big brother at South Bank, London, it is not confusing, not over-scientific.

To those who have not yet seen the London Festival Exhibition, the Leeds display will be very impressive. To those who have visited the concrete and steel fantasy beside the Thames, it will have a more familiar attractiveness.

Unique exhibits

South Bank is all huge pavilions, futuristic dsigns, scientific wonders. In Leeds nearly all is understandable. There are a thousand and one things at South Bank which you will not see in Leeds. But among unique Leeds exhibits are a model theatre, entirely automatic and the “Corridor of Time.” The latter has a constant commentary in the easily recognisable voice of Valentine Dyall and tells of British achievement and history.

Although the Leeds display is claimed to be the largest travelling exhibition in the country, the tented “pavilions” are cramped.

A jostle worth while

Divided into sections which include peeps at the British at work, play, home and sport, the exhibition when crowded is rather like a football match. Hundreds of visitors jostle and elbow in an attempt to see some of the marvels of the future home, with television in the wall, well-equipped kitchen and bathroom, and standard lamp looking like a compass.

People at the back of the watching crowd comment: “Some folks look too long at things.” Yet when they go to the front they linger twice as long. If only the exhibition was more roomy it would be less trying. At the South Bank there is more room, but it is so much bigger that fatigue takes the edge from one’s Festival appetite after an hour or two. Possibly that is why there is less pushing and elbowing.

In Leeds one hears more cries of “Oooh, just look at that!”, more expressions of surprise and wonderment. In London, marvel upon marvel is piled on the visitor until he becomes saturated and impervious.

Both should be seen

Many people will only be able to visit one exhibition. They will be missing much of course. Those who see London and miss the touring display may regard the Festival of Britain Exhibition as too much of a scientist’s domain, and excessively expressive of modern art.

If you miss London you will be denied the magnificent sight of the Dome of Discovery, and a host of impressive exhibits.

To see both is the ideal. For they are really complementary. There is a feeling at the travelling exhibition that you are really part of it, and you feel proud of it.

At South Bank you wonder whether it has all been designed for the foreign visitor. You like to think of it as a show of British achievement, but some of the things there seem distictly un-British. Or perhaps that is because the provincial mind is unused to miracles that spring up almost overnight. – M.H.