I have just come back from another inspirational talk from the West of England Design Forum, this time the star of the show being the absolute beaut that is Ken Garland.
With his signature hat and cheeky smile he once again stole my heart for the second time (the first time being drinks in a bar at 1am after the Cheltenham Design Festival, but that is another story) with his charm and yoda like ways.
The theme of the talk being on Protest Graphics (admittedly, not what I was expecting) but was fascinating all the same, looking at the way they have developed from the propaganda of the two sided Northern Ireland issues (ashamedly, something that I really don't know much about, but something I am now going to look into) to the protest graphics of the more recent Occupy London protests.
He talked us through the work that he did with the CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) producing artwork and posters himself, that were widely used, and also to other forms of protest graphics, most of which appears on large scale on the walls of building. Work such as the Cable Street mural, based on a riot that took place in 1936, yet the artwork did not appear on the wall until the mid 1970s. All of this artwork and graphics, all designed for a cause, all designed for a reason whether it be to rally people and their emotions to take action, or to remember the struggle that people had been through, for various causes that they felt important and gave them a voice. All this has really got me thinking about the work that I do myself, what its purpose is, why do we do it, what reaction do we want it to have?
Seeing these various murals and artwork relating to protests and political issues within society has got me thinking more to the meaning behind the graffitti around Bristol, rather than just another piece of art 'that looks well good'. A question from the audience about Ken's thoughts on the Mild Mild West Banksy work made me realise I don't actually know what it is referring to, if anything. The numerous amounts of protest graphics around Bristol, do they have a viable cause? Or whether it is just another product of the 'Marlon Brando syndrome' that Ken mentioned - 'What are you protesting about?' - 'What have you got?' is it protest for the sake of protest, or protest for a cause?
Ken also talked alot about the Occupy London protests, which he is so passionate about he has created a logo for, and had captured a lot of interesting photography from. It was interesting to hear him say that he takes his cues from the younger generation, when it seems that we look to designers like him to take our cues from. Its a never ending cycle!
I won't babble on for much longer, but leave you with a few quotes that I managed to scribble down at the end of the talk, they may not be completely accurate so take them with a pinch of salt!