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
‘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.
‘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.
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