Who were York’s Aero Girls?

The Aero Girls poster
The Aero Girls poster
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An enigmatic collection of 1950s paintings commissioned by Rowntree to advertise a chocolate bar, has led to a new website being launched by the University of York.

It aims is to unlock some of the mysteries surrounding the collection of 1950s’ paintings commissioned by the firm and held in York’s Borthwick Institute for Archives.

The York Digital Library showcase follows the quest of researchers Kerstin Doble and Francesca Taylor to discover the stories behind a series of 20 portraits of young women commissioned for use in Aero Chocolate Advertising from 1951 to 1957.

Former Aero Girls are still coming forward. Barbara Pitt, who now lives in South Africa, was 17 at the time of the sitting and attending Goldsmiths College School of Art. She was living in Chelsea with artist Adrian Ryan and they married in September 1952.

Project Curator Kerstin Doble said: “When we started the project, we were not even sure if the Aero Girls were real women.

“There is so much human interest behind these portraits – the stories we have collected touch on art, social history, fashion, the changing role of women, even the Profumo Affair.”

Who were the Aero Girls? features archive images, footage, biographies and first-hand accounts by Aero Girls. To find out more visit the York Digital Library at http://digital.york.ac.uk/showcase/aerogirls.jsp.