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Propaganda Posters And Denis Glover

MEDIA RELEASE For immediate release 3 December 2004


10 December 2004 - 20 March 2005

Towards the Precipice

Propaganda posters collected by WB Sutch

A new exhibition opening at the National Library Gallery next week brings together a remarkable selection of propaganda posters from the period 1935 to 1942.

Towards the Precipice: propaganda posters collected by WB Sutch features a selection of Spanish, German, British and Soviet posters that illustrate some of the crucial events and activities going on as Europe headed towards all-out war. The exhibition includes the personal papers of WB Sutch, along with books, pamphlets and photographs from the Turnbull Library collections.

(Spanish) The Nationalists, (lithograph), 4 November 1936, published by Ministerio de Propaganda, Madrid, printer unknown, artwork attributed to both Juan Antonio Morales and Canavate. Shirley Smith Family Trust Collection

The Spanish posters represent the voice of Republican opposition to the right wing Nationalist forces of General Franco in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39, with rousing calls to arms like 'No Pasaran, Pasaremos - They shall not pass, We shall overcome'.

(German) 'Build youth hostels and camps', (lithograph), circa 1933-39, publisher unknown, printed by Offesetdruck Langebartels and Jung, artist: Witte, Hamburg. Shirley Smith Family Trust Collection

The selection of German posters focused on their use by the Nazi regime to win ordinary Germans over to their worldview by showing them, and the world, the promised material advantages of belonging to Hitler's Germany, particularly on the various arms of the 'Strength through Joy' movement.

The British posters cover the early years of the Second World War and build upon the generally accepted idea that the war was both just and necessary to defend traditional British values. Included in the show are two of the British government's early attempts to win over the British public - 'Your courage, Your cheerfulness, Your Resolution' and 'Freedom is in peril'. These posters are notorious for their absolute failure, the criticism directed towards them being that they perpetuated class differences.

(Russian): Pictorial presentation of the true Aryan, (lithograph), circa 1941, publisher unknown, printed by Stafford & Co Ltd, Netherfield, Nottingham, artist unknown. Shirley Smith Family Trust Collection

Finally, the Soviet posters were designed following 'Operation Barbarossa', the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. They were later adapted by the British to reinforce the resulting Anglo-Soviet alliance against Hitler.

The exhibition also tells of some of WB Sutch's experiences in Europe from his initial travels in his early 20s to his overseas visits with Walter Nash for the New Zealand government in the late 1930s.

Towards the Precipice will be on show at the National Library Gallery from 10 December 2004 until 20 March 2005.


Denis Glover

The third in a series on New Zealand writers


Denis Glover, Sailor, 1946. Photographer: Albion Wright, F1121961½. Alexander Turnbull Library

The National Library Gallery has a programme of presenting exhibitions on New Zealand writers, and the next subject is the illustrious and infamous poet Denis Glover (1912-1980). A larger than life personality with prodigious talent, educated and articulate, an accomplished sailor with a University 'Blue' in boxing and a fondness for the bottle, he cut a rare figure.

Glover excelled as a publisher and founded the Caxton Press in Christchurch while at University. The modest 'Caxton Club', as it was initially known, went on to become the chief publisher of an emerging New Zealand literature. Fellow Cantabrian and writer Anton Vogt stated, 'The man who made and ran the Caxton Press before the State Literary Fund existed is the undisputed god-father of new New Zealand writing,' and 'he likes to play buffoon and tough, but he is a serious, gentle man. Indeed, God help him, he is a gentleman.'

During World War II in England Glover came to know many of the leading literary lights, and his work was included in the prestigious journal Penguin New Writing along with luminaries like of Jean-Paul Sartre and Laurie Lee. Glover's talent and exacting standards as a printer and typographer were also appreciated by this circle. In the late 1940s the London editor and publisher, John Lehmann, sought Glover out to have two books printed at Caxton Press.

As well as drawing on the Turnbull Library collections, the exhibition also presents items from private collections. One of the remarkable documents to have survived has been lent for the exhibition - Glover's official 'Top-Secret' instructions for the invasion of Normandy on D-Day, which should have by rights been returned to the Navy. His Commanding Officer later wrote: 'The most outstanding personality among them was the New Zealander Lieutenant Denis Glover DSC, RNZNVR. [*] and I had picked him to take over as guide of the fleet if my craft should be put out of action.' Glover's irascible irreverence had him playing hunting songs from a gramophone over a loud hailer as he landed his troops on the beach amidst heavy fire. Yet he then went on to save the crew of two other craft that were in significant difficulty. For this he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC).

Denis Glover would not suffer fools gladly. The exhibition includes quotes from many of his unpublished letters which make lively and pointed reading. For example, he addresses a letter to the Readers Digest, which seems to have ignored his request to be removed from their address list, 'Persistently intolerable people'. A letter of advice to a literary hopeful is extraordinary in its blunt yet courteous criticism.

And of course he is the author of New Zealand's iconic poem, 'The Magpies,' with its unforgettable 'And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle / The magpies said.' The exhibition presents a man who is talented, vociferous, boisterous and brave.


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