Sunday, August 16, 2009

War Propaganda Poster - British India

Here is first entry for August. Some people may hate this post as I am not going to put any research material with item. Frankly speaking, I was not in mood today to put some item which shall be accompanied with some text. So here it is, a simple but very interesting item to share (which doesn't require any text as it is self-explanatory :P).

Well, I tried publishing it like this but I couldn't as it would have belied my profession. So, here is some information on the war propaganda done by British India during those days.

Most of these creative work was done by artists/scholars of Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Art at Bombay. I always used to wonder who were the genius behind such work. You will be surprised to learn that British Government threatened to close such creative place to save expenditure which in turn produced some of magnificent piece of work later. Some can argue that the pressure from British Govt. produced it. Whatever be the case, kudos to brains behind them. Here is small history behind these artworks.

The Institute of Applied Art history first began with the founding of its sister school, the Sir J. J. School of Art. The school opened through the help of a donation by Jamsetji Jeejeebhai in 1857 and that's the reason it was named Sir J. J. School of Art.

During the Second World War the school was threatened with closure. At the time the school was run by the British Bombay government and its funding came directly from the government. In preparation for the looming war many committees were set up to review excess government expenditure, and divert money instead to defense needs. The close scrutiny of one such "Thomas Committee" fell on the Sir J. J. School of Art. The committee recommended that the school of art be shut down, claiming that it only contributed to furthering personal talents of artists, and was of no use to society in general.

The director of the J. J. School of Art set out to rectify the situation. In 1935 Mr. Soloman was the dean of JJ. In 1946, J. J. School of Art started a new department, called the Commercial Art Section, or CAS. The objective of this division was to impart all of the necessary training in art to its students, but with an eye on students being able to exploit this training for commercial purposes. A direct contribution of this section was to aid the war preparations of the government by designing propaganda and public awareness posters. This exercise was a huge success. Therefore, the government decided not to shut down the Sir J. J. School of Art.

The students trained at the CAS soon found that they were in considerable demand from the commercial industries of Mumbai (then Bombay), to design publicity material for selling their products and services. Also, the fledgling advertising industry lapped up talent from the CAS, creating a set of people who would end up being counted among the fathers of Indian advertising.

We all know that it is one of the most prestigious institution in India now with history of providing half of country's creative work force.


Virginia Woolf said...

Wow! I appreciated this post very much. I am a Portuguese student doing my master degree in the Czech Republic (Euroculture within the Erasmus Mundus Programme). My thesis will actually be on British and Indian posters from 1932 to 1949... I will be going to Bangalore for internship in September but my area of research relating the posters will be possibly Kolkata. I wanted to ask you if you know something more on this topic, or know anyone that does... If that is so, could you write me back? Thank you! Patrícia

Virginia Woolf said...

Sorry, just realised you have to approve my comment first... Maybe I commented twice... with this one thrice:x

Virginia Woolf said...

Hi there! I am very surprised with your post. I am a Portuguese student doing a Master degree in Euroculture in Czech Republic... in the Erasmus Mundus programme. I wanted to do my master thesis on British posters in India during the 30's and 40's and India's counter-response, I'm possibly focusing on the area of West-Bengal. I'm very interested in this topic and on the impact it might had to India's visual political culture... I will be doing my internship in Bangalore in September... But I would like to ask you if you know something more on this topic, literature or where to research. I would really appreciate your help! Thank you and kind regards,
Patrícia Paixão

Hmmm!!! Let's see..... said...

I don't have much idea but I would say Calcutta (Kolkata) and Bombay (now Mumbai) are two great place to work on anything related to British Raj.

You shall be able to find lots of such materials. In Calcutta, you shall visit National Museum. Calcutta also has lots of libraries or places where you can get some information. Give me couple of days, I will try to get some information for you from my sources.

Between, National Archives is another great place in New Delhi where you can get all such stuff -- Just my opinion.

Let me try to get some concrete information for you.

Virginia Woolf said...

Thank you for all your advises. Really, they are very important for me. If you know anything else that could be helpful let me know... All the best,

Hmmm!!! Let's see..... said...

Can you please send me test email at my email-id: so I can get your email address.

I have got a contact in BBC Kolkata. She can help you. But, I don't want to put her details here in open forum. If you send me test email then I can reply to that with information.

Meena said...

Love your collection -- I shared some of your images on Sikhs in Shanghai Facebook page where I am collecting Shanghai Sikhs' related history and their involvement in WW2 as well.

Splendid collection! I was particularly interested in the J.J school of arts creations as Sir Jamsetji Jeejibhai made his fortune in China.


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