By Len Phelan in Britain:
Saturday 15 December 2012
A radically different exhibition of Christmas cards and the book accompanying it
This excellent exhibition tells the story of social, industrial and political struggle in Britain and internationally through a unique collection of protest Christmas cards.
Currently running in Newport, it’s accompanied by a book of the same name by ex-Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent Llew Smith and his late wife Pam.
The exhibits on show have been lovingly curated from a collection they built up over many years.
It dates back to the 1840s and includes items from most of the subsequent major social and political protests – women’s suffrage, the peace and anti-apartheid movements, the Spanish civil war, the poll tax rebellion and the 1984 miners’ strike.
The cards range from mass produced, party political or trade-union messages to small limited print runs by individual activists, strikers’ support groups or single issue or community protesters. There’s a complementary display of new radical Christmas card designs on show too.
Drawn from individual collections, Leeds Postcards, the Daily Worker and the Morning Star, Glad Tidings Of Struggle And Strife reflects the ongoing struggles for social justice, human, civil and equal rights.
“Many portray the words and deeds of those who, in the face of injustice, refused to remain silent and accept that nothing could be done. They are seen as a threat to the established order and are often described as ‘rebels’ or ‘revolutionaries,’” says Llew Smith.
“Yet many have helped to mould our history and have been responsible for much of the advances made when, too often, we were taught it was the result of the so-called contributions by kings, queens, generals and landowners.
“As activists, we had the privilege of campaigning alongside many of these truly remarkable ‘rebels,’ most of whom never received a mention in our history books. Nevertheless, we are still indebted to them.”
Those are pretty compelling reasons to get along to this exhibition and if that’s not possible, the book would probably make a radical loved one happy this festive season.
In its own right, the authors’ commentary is a highly informative and entertaining read and the latter sections charting the eras of Thatcher and new Labour up to the current state of kleptocratic misrule contain some particularly acute observations.
As Oscar Wilde remarked, “It is through disobedience that progress is made” and he could well have been describing the spirit of much that is on show here.
The exhibition runs at Newport City Art Gallery, John Frost`Square, until January 12. Free. Opening times: (01633) 656656. Glad Tidings Of Struggle And Strife: A History Of Protest Christmas Cards is published by Fonthill Media, price £14.99.
Britain’s “spiralling” fuel poverty crisis risk shutting another 300,000 families out in the cold this Christmas, government advisers warned David Cameron yesterday: here.
- Need to Read: Exhibition of unusual cards – from the Suffragettes to Pussy Riot Christmas cards (walesonline.co.uk)
- Christmas eCard of the week – Penguin Medley! (bluemountain.com)