Julian Gratton

Exploring the Political Poster at the People’s History Museum

When my Art Director and I were showing our ‘book’ around a variety of agencies back in the mid 90s, when we were looking for a job, there was one campaign in it that polarised opinion more than others. That campaign was for one of the UK’s political parties that my Art Director and I had slaved over during long days and evenings pulling a ‘book’ together to help us get a job

The memories of those days as a student came flooding back this afternoon when I visited Manchester’s People’s History Museum to see their exhibition entitled ‘Picturing Politics – exploring the Political Poster in Britain’. It was an exhibition that could have been very one dimensional; but thanks to some added creativity, it’s an exhibition I encourage everyone to see, regardless of where your political allegiances lie.

As you’d expect the exhibition features a wide range of posters covering over 100 years. So first of all, it’s intriguing to see how the designs, words and messaging has become increasingly clever. The highlight for me was the collection of posters from the 80s and 90s created by Saatchi & Saatchi and M& C Saatchi… yet amongst this collection there were some new things to discover… such as a poster from the Political Party formed by Billy Bragg, Paul Weller and Sade in the 1980s called ‘Red Wedge’.

I also particularly enjoyed looking at the sketchpads of the people who created some posters for Labour, together with the actual designs of the posters that were then used in a political campaign. And tucked away next to some of the posters were some QR codes, which led you to some interesting talks by the likes of Steven Fielding, the Professor of Political History at the University of Nottingham.

And for those of you interested in what makes a good political poster, there’s a nice little touch on one of the walls where an old political poster is dissected to help you understand what makes a good one.

The exhibition runs until June 17th, you can read more about it here.