'Australia For Sun and Surf' poster by Gert Sellheim
The 'Australia For Sun and Surf' poster was designed by Gert Sellheim in 1931 for the Australian National Travel Association (ANTA, estab 1929). Sellheim was one of the earliest designers to be commissioned by ANTA to produce designs for Australian travel posters, posters which were displayed locally as well as in London and San Francisco in the early 1930s.
A particularly outstanding example of early Australian graphic design, the poster uses photomontage and carefully constructed typographical elements against simply constructed back and foregrounds to convey its message. Graphically, Sellheim successfully manages to associate the sun, surf, leisure and vast open space with Australia.
In the process of designing graphics and posters, Sellheim simultaneously evolved a strong body of visual symbols which went on to become enduring images associated with Australian national identity, the most renowned of these being his distinctive flying kangaroo logo created for Qantas in 1947.
The poster, 'Australia/for Sun and Surf' illustrates a strikingly modernist composition, incorporating a photograph of a female in the surf as a unique and appealing aspect of Australian culture and identity. It features a strong horizontal as well as diagonal composition, with the title 'AUSTRALIA/FOR SUN AND SURF' stylishly incorporated above and below the poster's central illustration. The designer's signature 'SELLHEIM' features prominently in the main body of the poster at lower left.
Born in Estonia of German parents, Gert Sellheim (1901-1970) studied architecture at universities in Germany before travelling to London before migrating to Western Australia in 1926. He set up an architecture and design practice in Melbourne in 1930, and moved to Sydney in 1947. A significant selection of his work was exhibited in the 'Exhibition of Aboriginal Art and its Application' organised by the Australian Museum, Sydney in 1941. His design for an 'Aboriginal Art' stamp was released in Australia in 1948.