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Collective Remembrance Propaganda Posters from the Great War

Curator:  Mora Dianne O'Neill

A century later, propaganda posters from the First World War – designed to  mobilize an army, persuade Canadians that support for the war was just and noble, inspire them to exercise thrift, and to lend the government their own money to pay for the war – will provide visitors with an opportunity to pull aside the curtain of time and to experience an earlier generation’s feelings, fears, and hopes about the first truly global conflict.
 
More often than not, the names of the artists responsible for these posters in Canada and in Britain remain lost behind time’s curtain. Generally they were designers employed by the big printing houses where anonymity was the rule. Stylistically, the lingering influence of 19th century attitudes governs the design of many of the posters, but others demonstrate an awareness of the most avant-garde approaches to design.
 
Most of these posters have been borrowed from three collections of posters acquired over the years by the Nova Scotia Archives; the Archives itself is mounting a virtual exhibition of its poster holdings on its website, but the Gallery’s exhibition will allow visitors a first-hand look at these historic, and artistic, documents.
 
The centenary of the start of the First World War will take precedence this year, but a small installation in the alcove will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the start of the Second World War.    

 


 

Image, Left to Right: unknown artist, Keep All Canadians Busy, 1918, WP 11, lithograph, 60.7 x 45.4 cm, Nova Scotia Archives, MG100, Volume 35, #76.2;Doris Brabham Hatt for Spottiswoode & Co, Britain Needs You at Once, 1915, PRC 108, lithograph, 76.0 x 50.8 cm, Nova Scotia Archives, gift of Martin McGrath.