Monday, 23 March 2009


Who are you? Where are you from? Where have you been?

Qing Dynasty Passport

Lord Leighton's passport

A Polish passport from 1931

Thursday, 19 March 2009

things off the internet

this has nothing to do with the project

Tuesday, 17 March 2009


Wild Plakken's stamps for the centenary of the Dutch trade union movement, produced in 1989. These use the iconic symbols of joining of hands to focus on the principles of solidarity, emancipation and democracy as the central tenets of the Nederlandse Vakbeweging. See a history of Dutch stamps here

Romanian stamp commemorating the Romanian Revolution from Ceaucescu's despotic rule.

A wide range of techniques, but all bold and direct, communicating often powerful statements of political, social, cultural and industrial ideals or achievements. All succinct for the limited surface area (and sometimes low grade papers) of the stamps. See more courtesy of here

My own collection of Czechoslovakian stamps. Though they span a period from 1918 to maybe the 1980's (before the dissolution into the independent Czech Republic and Slovakia), and a wide variety of subjects and illustrative approaches, they seem to share a certain sensibility and idiosyncratic aesthetic that indicates the fluctuating social, industrial and political effects on Czechoslovakian cultural identity during those times (the state being a somewhat forced mix of different ethnic groups, all with strong visual culture, but perhaps with the Czech identity at the fore). Perhaps the need to express the unity and identity of this emergent state resulted in this exuberant display.

Monday, 16 March 2009


The story of the Union Jack, clever amalgamation of several national flags.

A diagram describing the colour proportions of major world flags, interesting to note that the same colours appear over and over again, there is a predominance of red and blue and yellow.

Above and below flags produced by the Fante, a tribe from Ghana. The flags are particular and narrative in nature and all produced using the process of appliqué. Most of those preserved were produced during the period in their history when the British ruled [around the mid to late 19th Century]. It is interesting to note the bastardised versions of the Union Jack, possibly an act of interpretation / subversion.


another example of the crossover from narrative and anecdotal imagery to symbolic and abstracted statement making! This is John Quelch's flag, a notorious pirate, scourge of the seven seas, ravager of man/woman/children/dog/cat/guinea pig ahaaargh!!! etc etc.

This time we have the flag of Captain Dulaien.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009


This is the oldest 'extant' pre - Renaissance rectangular map of the world. Produced in Egypt in the first half of the 11th century and part of a collection of images known as the book of Curiosities. Some of the images contain [possibly] the first cartographic references to England [Angle terre]. But more/equally interesting is the mode of visual description, the ability to produce an image which relies on Euclidean observation converted in to 2D, abstraction of space, and an economy of articulation.

Another image form that book of curiosities [all courtesy of here, thank you very much. This image depicts the Indian Ocean, again a clean, efficient and abstracted 'graphic' representation of geographical space. There are liberties taken with information and a degree of imagination applied to fill in the gaps.

This time an image of the Indus.

The world map according to Ptolemy.

Satirical map depicting the state of Europe during the first World War.

Images from the Kyushu medical book.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Calls to Action / protest / Propaganda

El Lissitzky's "Beat The Whites With The Red Wedge" pro-Bolshevik, anti-imperialist Constructivist poster.

Rodchenko's "Books on every subject" poster against book censorship. See the use of composition and typography to represent a shout of those phrases. See other powerful Russian Propaganda Posters here.

Atelier Populaire's posters produced in protest against the conservative rule of Charles de Gaulle's government, due to mass unemployment and poverty caused by his government . Students of the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris staged strikes and demonstrations alongside dissatisfied factory workers, and used their lithography department to produce their graphic, impactful protest posters which were distributed anonymously to publicise their cause. See a great catalogue of their posters in Camberwell College of Arts Special Collection library.

Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp anti-nuclear banners, using traditionally feminine craft skills to make political statements on feminism and peace.