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UP FRONT AND PERSONAL (article first published : 2003-10-18)

The British Council has announced the South African exhibition details for Up Front And Personal, its acclaimed showcase of the best of the last three decades of graphics and design in UK politics.

Up Front And Personal showcases the quality of thought and production that British designers, advertising agencies, artists and activists have brought to projects relating to British and global social and political causes. Ranging from landmark advertising campaigns and iconic poster images, to spray-can billboard liberation and ephemera from community workshops and the alternative presses, the exhibition covers a wide variety of statements, approaches and techniques.

This exhibition celebrates how freedom of expression in British culture and politics has been exercised both creatively and graphically. It also shows how that freedom is constantly probed and pushed to the limit by artists and activists alike, creating a visual dynamic that ensures that public viewpoints and tolerances never remain stagnant - but change and evolve with the times.

Harking from the grand tradition of British satire, humour and wit are not unexpectedly a key element of some of the works showcased. As interesting are some acknowledged classics of subtlety and sensitivity where difficult messages have been tactfully but memorably communicated.

Highlights include: the essential Saatchi & Saatchi election poster Labour isn't Working (1979); satirical comments in the form of Private Eye magazine covers and Spitting Image puppets, grassroots graphics relating to the Miners' Strike, the anti Poll Tax movement, Women's Liberation, anti-racism and gay rights movements; campaigns tackling difficult issues such as child abuse and current issues relating to the environmental and anti-globalisation movements. Enlivened by contrasts in scale (from small badges to large billboards), this is a vibrant collection of imagery that excites, challenges, inspires, possibly provokes, and in some cases, undoubtedly shocks.

The exhibition was curated by design historian and writer Liz McQuiston and was commissioned by the British Council in partnership with the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the South African National Gallery, Iziko Museums and the Durban Art Gallery.

The Up Front And Personal South African tour will be augmented by selections of some of the best South African work in this regard over the past two decades.

The exhibition will be on show at the Durban Art Gallery from February 11 to March 28.

More information from Paul Johnson, British Council Southern Africa, on 083 626 1427 or visit http://www.britishcouncil.org/southafrica




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