Richard Warren

"Clearly I tap to you clearly along the plumbing of the world" (W S Graham)

La nostalgie continue …

At the risk of bogging down this blog in personal recollections (not the core intention), here are a couple more poster finds from the big clear-out.

medical aid vietnam
First, a geenuwine silk screened political poster from 1969. I designed and cut the stencil, and though I say it myself, it’s not bad. This was to publicise in Cambridge a sponsored walk put on by the London Medical Aid Committee for Vietnam, an organisation that we regarded as kosher, and not a Cold War front. Which does seem, with hindsight, to have been the case. The actual walk was not as much fun for me as it should have been. The distance was over twenty miles; I’d never walked as far in my life. And one of the Cambridge organisers, from a local sixth form, had recently informed me that she could only offer me, at best, a comradely affection. Her letter was written on bright orange tissue paper.

liberal ideology
And onwards to the ‘seventies. This letterpress student rant was my response to a Sheffield School of Art working party report that had managed to come up with nothing more focused for art education than fluffy aspirations to “freedom, diversity and independence.” The poster was, of course, made under the oblique influence of Art & Language, but it has the virtue of being understandable, which is more than you can say for their stuff. (Though, to be fair, most of my work at the time was obscurantist to an extreme, revolutionary clarity having been overwhelmed by the black tide of occultism.) One tutor said he liked the poster but felt it might be unfair to those obliged to spend time in real psychiatric hospitals. Which was a good point. Anyway, at least the typesetting is nifty – a vanished skill these days. Great fonts!

I ran into some people associated with Art & Language around this time at a National Union of Students art education conference. Nobody understood their motions, so I proposed the complete abolition of assessment in Art HE, which conference, gratifyingly, voted for, making it (theoretically) official NUS policy. The conference chair and then NUS President, none other than Labour axeman Charles Clarke, didn’t seem too bothered by this storming of the barricades; NUS top brass routinely ignored conference decisions. On my return I wrote a conference report for the art school newsletter entirely in rhyming couplets. This was duly typed up by our long suffering NUS office administrator, the amiable Angela Coe, who mentioned in passing that her son Sebastian was now doing quite well with his running. Funny how history picks out a few things for the mantelpiece, but kicks all the others under the settee …

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