Carol singing and political activism don’t really have that much in common do they? Singing silent night whilst knocking back mulled wine is very nice, but unlikely to inspire political change. Marching to parliament to protest about the introduction of bedroom tax, may encourage change, but is unlikely to put you in the festive spirit. There are very few places on Earth where Rocking Around The Christmas Tree and protests against the National Front can be found in the same place. Actually, scrap that, there’s only one place on Earth where you can find protests and carol singing side by side, and that’s the William Morris Gallery on Forest Road.
I went down to the Gallery on Sunday for the Friends of Lloyd Park winter warmer event. The event, which takes place in the park directly behind the gallery, is one of my favourite pre-Christmas things to do. It’s a good laugh, singing badly to Rudolf The Red Nose Reindeer, eating too many mince pies and numbing the cold with rum infused apple juice. The event is also a good excuse to go for a wander around the gallery, which is exactly what I did on Sunday. I headed straight to the exhibition called A World To Win, which features protest posters from all over the world. I found myself feeling moved and inspired, which after the onslaught of 2016, is a welcome change.
The exhibition has been organised by the Victoria & Albert Museum. It features posters from a century of protests, campaigns and world changing events. From the suffragettes to the Cuban Revolution, anti war posters to anti pesticide campaigns, one hundred years of activism has been bought together in one room in Walthamstow, and it’s incredible. The designs of the posters are enough to make the exhibition interesting, but the desire for change that sits behind the designs is what makes the exhibition remarkable.
Lets kick Out The Tories, states one poster from the 1980’s, which also shows a boot crushing a Rolls Royce. Fuck The Draft, reads an anti Vietnam War Poster from the U.S.A. So long as women are not free the people are not free. Never again, Stop the national front. Our world is not for sale. The slogans are endless, the campaigns are varied, but the message behind all of the posters is essentially the same, we can change this.
Don’t worry, I’m not about to jump up on a chair and sing The Red Flag. I’m not going to start calling everyone comrade, morph in to citizen and smith and shout power to the people. But I do think this exhibition is more than relevant to the world we are living in today. 2016 has been a hell of a year. Brexit, Trump, the continued tragedy in Syria, the list of horrors has been pretty endless, and left many of us feeling powerless. These posters, created by people who probably felt equally as powerless, remind us that change is possible. The posters my all have different themes, but they shout in once unified voice, don’t give up. The exhibition runs until the 15th January. Click here for more information.