Seems like the UK is heading for more discomfort this summer, only this time rather than melting roads and rails, the heat will be on for whoever ends up leading (now, there’s an interesting way to frame the new incumbent’s role) this frazzled country as a Summer of Discontent looms large – and with it I’m looking forward to a blast of protest placard and banner.
Looking back at pictures from the 1970’s and of the last great round of public sector protest, what sings out are the power of a few words to upset the pop narrative of the political class – ‘Low pay? No Way? Hard to mix that message and when compared with the triteness of ‘Levelling Up’, etc. the directness is like a literal shout.
With the criminal policy of anti-protest prefixed in our current ‘justice’ bill, the actual police powers to break up gatherings based on them being ‘too noisy’ brings the printed shout front and centre.
It’s hard to silence the printing press – even when XR tried to blockade the right-wing paper’s distribution lines they were foiled – and poster, sticker, placed and banner combine to maximal effect with minimal means. A kind of paper, scissors and metaphorical stone to create a rippling message – in this case a printed equivalent of ‘1,2,3,4, we don’t want your fucking war’ on people.
If you’ve ever dismissed graphic design as an unlikely means to change the world, maybe make yourself a placard and see what happens.
So, what do we want? A few sharp words. When do we want them? Now!