People’s History Museum, Manchester, until 17 June 2012
For the 1929 general election, the Labour Party created a poster of a heroic worker, stripped to the waist, with the slogan “Secure Industrial Prosperity”. It could almost be a piece of Soviet socialist realism. The Conservatives responded with an image that seems mildly fascist: varied representatives of the nation stand united before a sunrise representing a political version of the “Sun-ray Treatment” then used for tuberculosis.
Equally intriguing is the contrast in 1992. Labour sought votes with an image of Tony Blair, young, charming and relaxed, “because Britain deserves better”. The Tories, meanwhile, warned of “New Labour New Danger”, Blair’s friendly smile a front for far more ominous purposes revealed by the superimposed demonic bloodshot eyes. This was anticipated in 1987 by the Labour-affiliated group of musicians, Red Wedge, who showed Mrs Thatcher like a crazed 1950s science-fiction character under the heading “There’s Only One Loony Left…”
This highly entertaining exhibition – curated by Chris Burgess, a PhD student at the University of Nottingham – reminds us that posters are “a leftover of Victorian politics”, although they retain their potency to this day. Around 60 examples track the story from the woefully text-heavy screeds of the 1850s to the dawn of David Cameron’s Big Society. Many now seem almost unbelievably feeble. A Liberal poster from Oldham in 1900 bears the message “You Like Them: Then Vote Emmott and Runciman”. Hardly more inspiring is a poster from 1935 urging us to “Vote Labour and Keep the B.B.C. Announcer Busy Saying ‘Labour Gain’”.
Very noticeable too is the sheer austerity of the text and artwork produced during three decades of “more photos, less drawing, fewer words” from 1950 to 1979. The most exciting appeals Labour could muster in 1955 were “Abolish the Tax on Sport” and “Top Level Talks – Send Attlee”, while the Conservatives went for “Don’t Swop a Record for a Promise”. By 1959, however, they had come up with a famous poster, which led to accusations that they were “selling politics like soap powder”, where a happy, prosperous family sit round a table, with a television in the background, because “Life’s Better with the Conservatives”.
The organisers are largely content to let this fascinating material speak for itself, although they do flag up a number of recurring themes.
Since posters are essentially designed for urban billboards, politicians seeking country voters had to adopt formats suitable for walls, windows and gateposts. They also had to adapt their strategies to women voters, who became part, and then an equal part, of the electorate after 1918. One can find examples of posters where they are shown as part of the workforce or threatened with unemployment. Yet the thrifty housewife’s basket is seldom forgotten for long.
Taken from Times Higher EducationTweet
By TOBY WALNE
Last updated at 10:16 PM on 29th May 2010
Wish I’d had money to buy some of these… would love at least one original (particularly Women of Britain)
Your country needs you, Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, famously declared at the start of the First World War in a 1914 recruitment drive poster. Designed by Alfred Leete, the poster proved a huge propaganda success, thanks to Kitchener, his impressive waxed moustache and pointing finger.
Although it ranks as the most famous British wartime poster, it is only one of a huge range of propaganda pieces being sought by investors. First World War posters that could be bought for about £150 a decade ago now sell for upwards of £400.
Second World War examples, previously attractive only to specialist collectors, are also enjoying wider appeal and a bumper rise in prices.
Roy Butler, 87, partner at military auctioneer Wallis & Wallis in Lewes, East Sussex, believes the continued strength of the images is behind the new demand.
‘The generation with connections to the First World War are dying out while Second World War art work is becoming more appreciated,’ he says.
‘The iconic posters still look fresh, modern and don’t seem to date. They are not only fabulous pieces of art, but of huge historic importance.’Tweet
Special Issue on the visual rhetorics of command and control for The Poster Journal.
Visual rhetorics are by definition in the business of persuasion: in both private and public spheres, such rhetorics attempt to change the behaviours of both individuals and groups. From the “Stop” sign at the end of our street, through the visual and verbal warnings on packs of cigarettes, to the recruitment posters of our armed forces, common sense instruction blends into health-expert authority insistence and then into state invitations to die for one’s country.
In this first special issue of The Poster, we invite contributions on the many and different ways in which visual rhetoric intends and is used to inform, instruct, persuade and control our lives. Submissions should be in for October 14th 2011.
- Are all visual communications artefacts, at their core, attempts to control others?
- Are some media forms and technologies more effective agencies for control than others?
- Is it possible to have a rhetorically neutral communication.
- Are there visual forms that indicate a form of visual persuasion as opposed to an honest source of information: or is the distinction impossible to make.
- Who uses visual rhetoric in this way?
- How may visual rhetoric be resisted?
- Can we determine where and how informing turns into instruction and where instruction turns into compulsion?
- From the point of view of authorship how the control is communicated to the public sphere?
- What are their “tools”
- How does visual persuasion address ethical and moral issues?
The work of artists, designers and other visual practitioners is vitally important to The Poster and in this spirit we are actively seeking visual contributions from practitioners whose work addresses the mechanics of visual control. Visual contributions can be submitted as either peer or non-peer reviewed work (see below for submission information). We are also seeking papers and articles: research, critical, philosophical and theoretical papers on the call theme. All papers will be subject to a rigorous blind peer review process before publication. The journal supports the active exchange of views and encourages contributors to present strong stances where their research supports them.
We also call for reviews of books, exhibitions, mass media and examples of visual rhetorics where they are thematically relevant and are likely to engage the reader’s interests.
Papers – Papers should, in the first instance, be provided as MS Word (.doc or .docx), Open Document Text (.odt) or Rich Text Format (.RTF) files with low-resolution images (72dpi) included in the text at the intended positions in the text. Both colour and greyscale images are welcome. Please help us out by using the standard Heading 1 (H1, H2, H3) and Text Body styles as this, and the indication of position of the images, helps us enormously in the editing and production of the final document. Papers should be between 5000 and 8000 words long. Once a paper is accepted we’ll ask for the full resolution images.
Visual contributions – The contributions may be on any subject relevant to the theme but should demonstrate an explicable intent. They should be presented, in the first instance, as low-resolution .jpg or .png files (72 dpi), numbered or otherwise ordered in the way they will be read (if ambiguity is the intent please help us out by sending us a visual that explains their intended organisation). Please include (as either metadata or on an accompanying list) details of copyright, authorship and ownership.
Reviews should be between 1000 and 2000 word long and if they carry images or excerpts of the reviewed material should be copyright cleared with the author or the owners of the intellectual copyright.Tweet