You can read 9 more articles this month
THE Paddington Printshop in London has been in existence for well over four decades and its enduring survival is best testimony to its continuing relevance to the locality it serves.
Throughout that time, it’s been at at the centre of many communal initiatives, political battles and long-term struggles in the north Paddington neighbourhood, one the most culturally and ethnically varied in the capital.
Assisting with housing, racism and migration campaigns, agitating, educating and organising has been its staple and posters one of its weapons of choice — not surprising, given that its chief facilitator John Phillips is an art college graduate.
He wears many hats — community activist, educator, graphic designer, printshop co-ordinator, exhibitions curator and, since the early 1970s, a live wire in the neighbourhood.
His book is a pictorially evocative testament of the struggles of a community that wouldn’t allow its aspirations to be shunned or its cohesion and determination deflected or trampled upon.
The posters have a unifying graphic energy and a clear sense of purpose, despite the differences in style and ability of individual designers — its colourful mosaic is joyous and confident.
Phillips’s The Landlord is perhaps the most arresting and muscular — reminiscent of the Polish poster school of the time — and his Rotten Apple delivers a succinct public information message on sanctions against apartheid South Africa.
Pippa Smith’s Another Empty Home is an unerring exposé of Westminster Council’s failed housing policy, while the epigrammatic element enlivens the anonymous Women’s Festival 1978.
Simon Fell’s hilarious Workshops in Photography, Smith and Jay Talbot’s poignantly laconic Happy Xmas or Phillips’s advert for the local Steel ’n’ Skin reggae combo all catch the eye.
But no activism is worth its salt without letting its hair down. Hence a dragon gets into the festive mood in the anonymous Summer Festival 1982 and Joe Strummer announces The 101ers’ weekly gigs at The Elgin pub — a nostalgia rush to soften the heart of the hardest barricade minder.
And there’s a corresponding verve in the agitprop design of the book by John Morgan studio which, echoing the spirit of the times, is spot-on.
Posters from Paddington Printshop by John Phillips is published by Four Corners Books, £15.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.