Monday 16 September 2013

Who's that Girl? Who were the Aero Girls?

Earlier this year I introduced you to Rowntree’s Aero Girls paintings, which were commissioned for use in Aero chocolate advertising in print and television from 1951 to 1957. Since then we’ve managed to track down the only living painter who worked on the 1950s campaign, Frederick Deane RP, as well as three new Aero Girl paintings fresh out of the Nestlé archives. I'll be telling you more about these discoveries in my next blog post.

We’d love to find out even more about this enigmatic collection of figurative paintings and invite you to share your stories at our upcoming free exhibition Who were the Aero Girls? on show at York Mansion House from 12 October to 20 October 2013.

For those of you a little further afield, below is an interactive image map of our entire collection of twenty Aero Girls paintings. Hover your mouse over the images and click on the dots to find out more information about the artworks, and for links to York Digital Library of images.

Do you recognise any of these women? Were the Aero Girls life models, fictitious characters, wives, girlfriends, your grandmother, your sister, your best friend? Where are they now? We want to hear from you!

Credit: Images above are shown with kind permission of Nestlé UK

Anna. Alice. Wendy. The Country Girl. The Art Student. Who were these women? And what was their story? Where are they now? What happened to the paintings that are missing from the Rowntree’s collection? If you were an Aero Girl or if you know of one, the Borthwick Institute would love to hear from you. Please contact us at, call +44 (0)1904 321166 or come along to chat to us at the exhibition in York city centre.
Who were the Aero Girls? Discovering Hidden Art in the Archives is part of Chocolate Week 2013. On display for the first time since leaving Rowntree’s factory, will be a carefully curated selection of our Aero Girls collection. A unique opportunity to glimpse into some of our lesser known archive holdings, the exhibition also documents the Borthwick Institute’s journey so far to unwrap the mysteries and unearth new information about these little-known artworks. Visitors are encouraged share their stories, to ask new questions and continue the research, at the Borthwick Institute and beyond.

Aero chocolate is still made in York to this day by Nestlé, who took over Rowntree’s in the late 1980s and are official sponsors of our upcoming exhibition. Nestlé archivist Alex Hutchinson said, "We're delighted that some of our old treasures are being shared with a wider audience. The Borthwick Institute do a great job of looking after parts of our archive and we’re really proud to work with them. Although we have a large collection of original artworks, some have gone missing over the years. We'd love to know where the rest of the Aero artworks are now, and what happened to the painting's sitters, what were their stories?"

Who were the Aero Girls? Discovering Hidden Art in the Archives takes place at York Mansion House, St Helen’s Square, York from Saturday 12 to Sunday 20 October, from 11am – 4pm daily (closed Tuesday 15 October). Admission is free.

This blog post was written by Kerstin Doble, National Archives Trainee.

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