It is a strange feeling looking at the Chinese Poster Collection in the University of Westminster Archive for the very first time. All those straightforward and catchy political slogans, together with images painted in unbelievably saturated colour, and characters, mostly farmers, soldiers, students, labourers or other proletarian figures, gazing determinedly towards some illusory target afar, have raised an unusual nostalgia in me.

I found this feeling quite strange, as these posters were all produced in the years even before I was born

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‘Raise a New Wave of Industrialisation, Practise the Anshan Iron & Steel Company Charter ‘, 1978

As the largest public collection of its kind in Europe and US, the 900-piece Chinese Poster Collection dates from the 1950s to the 1970s, which marks the first 4 significantly transforming decades after the establishment of Communist China in 1949. The collection was founded in 1977 by John Gittings, senior lecturer in Chinese at the Polytechnic of Central London, and continuously contributed to by university colleagues, students and friends who studied and travelled in China during the 1960s and 1970s. In 2015, the University of Westminster Archive took over this extensively grown collection and started a re-organising and re-cataloguing project.

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 ‘Long Live the Dictatorship of the Proletariat’, 1971  

My name is Cassie Lin, new member of the archive team and now responsible for rearranging the Chinese Poster Collection. I am a Ph.D. student in University of Westminster, originally from China, and have been living in the UK for quite a few years. I would like to share some of my thoughts in this newly created blog during the process of organising the collection. As an individual who has life experience in both western and eastern worlds, I might be having a unique point of view (and hopefully an interesting one) introducing the collection to a larger audience.

 

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This is me by the way (working very hard)

Being able to flip through the collection in a room located in the basement of Regent Library on Little Titchfield Street, you will begin to wonder, how on earth did these posters travel all the way across continents and end up being here? Coming from a younger, and more westernised generation in China, I can hardly imagine an era where propaganda is a lifestyle, and collectiveness is more respected than individualism; where every single person in the country had the same political view, and believed in the same idealistic social value. But there they are, memories of the young Communist China, lying on the table, dated, however, still nicely preserved. I remember them from the history textbooks, from the tales my parents, my grandparents once told. I guess that’s where the strange nostalgia came from – the trail of history always connects, and its memory never really fades.

I am looking forward to continue organising the Chinese Poster Collection, and share with you, in both Chinese and English language,  some more of the fun details, findings and anything that clicks in this official blog.

 


 

威斯敏斯特大学中国宣传画收藏馆 – 深埋于海外的中国现代史片段

 

收到伦敦摄政图书馆档案部门的录用通知时,我并未预料到,这份兼职将会成为自己重新了解中国旧时历史与文化的契机。

摄政图书馆隶属英国威斯敏斯特大学,偏居于伦敦闹市一隅。档案馆位于地下三层,安静,不见阳光。极少有人知道,在档案馆贮存室的某个角落,藏有900余张生产于上世纪50年代至80年代之间的中国招贴画,其中大多以“文革”和新中国成立以后的社会变化为主题,还囊括有一些年画,水墨画等具备传统艺术价值的藏品。

这一数量惊人的中国招贴画收藏,缘起于曾在威斯敏斯特大学任教,以研究中国当代文化著称的英国记者约翰.基廷斯。基廷斯曾就职于英国《卫报》,1971年,正值尼克松访华的前一年,他被委派至中国进行采访。在严密而封闭的行程安排当中,基廷斯意外地从当地新华书店贩售的宣传画里,寻到了理解中国文化潮流与价值观的入口。1977年,基廷斯在威斯敏斯特大学设立中国宣传画收藏馆,他和学生们开始利用各种途径收集与中国当代史相关的招贴画、宣传画和其他艺术作品。基廷斯认为,中国宣传画,尤其是“文革”宣传画的艺术价值,只是中国流行艺术的浮游之物,远抵不过其历史价值(构杏杏 -《“文革”宣传画:最轻也最重的收藏》)。如他所言,中国宣传画收藏馆迅速在收藏市场和学术领域受到青睐,并成为当代中国宣传画收藏最为齐全的藏馆之一。

2015年,摄政图书馆档案部门接过了这一珍贵且数目繁多的中国宣传画收藏,我的工作即是对它们重新进行整编。作为经受全球化进程影响而成长的中国年轻一代,这些时过境迁的宣传画,饱和度浓烈的用色,还有当时盛行的宣传口号,于我而言,都有些陌生了。而它们却在时隔几十年之后,仍然被大量保存于英国高校档案馆的现实,又充满着超乎真实的科幻之感。我似乎是嗅到了一丝乡愁,来自于我的文化里那一段我从未经历过的时代。

我期待未来能以中国宣传画收藏馆的官方博客为平台,用中英双语的方式,与你分享我在整编过程中所萌发的一些有趣的,值得探讨的私人想法。

Cassie Lin
Cassie Lin

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