An Archive of Art School Posters, From the 1950s to Today

Northampton College of ArtART SCHOOL POSTERS Archive, copyright of original images to institutions and artist/designers involved

A new exhibition revives posters created by students at art school in the latter half of the 20th century

In the decades that preceded our digital age, posters were an invaluable method of communication (and indeed publication: Dazed & Confused’s inaugural issue took the form of a fold out poster in 1991). Spreading the word about concerts, exhibitions, talks, performances and the like, head-turning graphics clamoured for attention and offered information, the poster itself as important as what was being advertised. A new Margate-based exhibition dips into the archive of Leigh Clarke and Tim Hutchinson – teachers at the London College of Communication – who have amassed a collection of examples made by students at art schools, promoting events happening within the institutions. Their entire compilation numbers over 400 and dates back to the 1950s, tracing the decades since via events like a 1986 Central Saint Martins ‘Space-Jam’, a film screening of Andy Warhol’s Flesh at the Northampton College of Art, and a gig from The Who at the London College of Printing.

What started as two individual, impromptu collections has become a collaborative project, and the exhibition, School’s Out, comprises photographs of the posters Clarke and Hutchinson have acquired over their lives in art schools. The posters themselves are reflective of the students’ interests and concerns; “Amateur, hand-printed and lo-fi, produced quickly, in small runs, to broadcast immediate concerns and rally the student body,” writes Lucy Howarth, curator at Liddicoat & Goldhill Project Space, who created the exhibition with Clarke and Hutchinson. The collective message of these vintage posters is one powered by youth – the innovative graphics and energetic messaging convey an excitement, and an unignorable creativity that the students spread among themselves. Howarth describes the process of putting School’s Out together as “restorative”, since the posters were photographed and are presented as prints. The show is a compelling revival, then, of the spirited youth culture that each poster represents.

School’s Out: A Celebration of Art School Posters is at Liddicoat & Goldhill Project Space, Margate, from July 14 – August 25, 2018. 

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