Nayonika Ghosh

Reminiscing Bata

Poster Design, Photography
Czech Image Exhibition
Vitrinka Gallery, London

As a part of the Czech Image competition,the brief encouraged us to celebrate or represent the Czech Image in the landscape of United Kingdom. As an international student in the country, I challenged myself to research further to find a context which would tie these two countries together.

Soon, I learnt about the history of the shoe company, Bata. Bata was founded in 1894 the town of Zlín (A town in Czech Republic) by Tomáš Bat’a. In India, Bata was also popular onestop shop for footwear. The brand was a common household name and its affordability made it popular across the masses.

On further research I discovered a place called East Tilbury, which was priorly a Bata town. It was established by Tomáš Bat’a, in order to promote his business overseas by establishing a Shoe factory.

His vision was to create a community for the workforce. Hence around the factory, he constructed a colony of houses, a cinema, a pool and a hall, so that the employees could truly live together as a community.

The town retains elements from its past like the Bata Avenue, The Bata War Memorial and Bata Mews. It was interesting to see how these traces were still left behind. The houses were around the factory, while on the opposite side of the road lie the Village Hall (former cinema hall), the pillar for the war memorial and other public spaces. The architectural design is very modern and still retains the Czech modernist character.

Images from East Tillbury 

The factory itself lies hidden behind and is almost inaccessible if one walks through the settlement. It was surprising to see that there were no signages guiding one to reach it.The building represents a strong influence of the modern architecture. A rectangular block with windows spanning through the structure, all equally divided throughout the structure. The structures supporting and extending from the building were all primarily perpendicular or parallel to the building. On top of the building, stands a block with the name “Bata” painted on it in a bright red colour, which was the subject for my poster. 

The poster consists of photograph of a fragment of the structure.The composition of the image represents both the re-painted “Bata” which looks almost new along with a section of the building which is worn out and abandoned.

This contrast in the treatment and maintenance of the structure was particularly fascinating. In my opinion, it was symbolic to an act done in order to keep the memory of the space alive and attribute it with respect. But at the same time the rest of the structure suggested an exhausted character which defines the present state of the factory. The colours of the factory with muted reds, while the windows reflected a rather cold blue represent a hint of colours during the Czech modern era.

The poster highlights the essence of this building, which is an important symbol of the Czech culture and influence in the UK.

The poster in the gallery space accompanied with images highlighting its details

Images of the poster displayed in the Vitrinka Gallery, London