When we were commissioned by Guernsey Post to create a set of stamps to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Florence Nightingale, the only thing we knew about her was her legendary moniker of ‘Lady of the Lamp’.
The first step therefore was to delve into her life and find out more about this iconic figure.
What we discovered was a life devoted to social reform and care - a woman of great character who sacrificed her personal relationships and health in devotion to her work. The research also revealed many facets to Florence’s personality including humanitarian, reformer, nurse, writer and devoted Christian. She was a prolific writer and her words resonate through the ages with an insight and humanity that is still powerful today.
We were keen to include some of her quotes in the stamps and to capture her pioneering spirit, whilst reflecting her continued influence on nursing.
Through photography, a series of hand studies tells the story of Florence’s life and reflects her proactivity, her compassion for human suffering and her total engagement in everything she did.
The colour palette was an important consideration. Florence famously wore a black dress with white trim, the black reflecting the seriousness with which she viewed her work and the white showing her commitment to cleanliness. She wrote many of her letters in sepia ink - a colour also redolent of the early photography of the Victorian era. In the final stamps, these three tones are brought together with the sepia reproduced in a metallic ink to add luminosity.
It is a fitting tribute that 2010 should be named the International Year of Nursing in honour of this remarkable women who not only revolutionised the profession, but who refused to believe that things could not be changed for the better.
“Were there not who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.” Florence Nightingale.