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The posters that encouraged thousands to fight
Updated 10:24am Wednesday 21st May 2014 in News
THEY are two of the most iconic recruitment posters from the First World War – images that encouraged men to sign up to fight in their thousands.
The silhouettes Think and Remember were among many created by York-born artist Harry Lawrence Oakley, who himself served with the Green Howards throughout the conflict.
And now the originals have been loaned to the Castle Museum in York for a major new centenary exhibition - 1914: When the World Changed Forever, which opens on June 28.
The works have been loaned by the artist’s great nephew, Jerry Rendell, who said his uncle, who died in 1960, would have been proud to see them back in the city.
“He designed the Think poster in collaboration with the North Eastern Railway company in York and it was used on stations all over their network,” he said.
“It then became an official war poster and was used throughout Britain, and in Australia and Canada as well. Oakley's figure of the advancing soldier became an iconic image and was adapted and used in many forms”
He added: “His work was popular during his lifetime but was never highly regarded by the critics - so he would be pleased to see that it is now getting the recognition it deserves.”
The artist was born in Poppleton in 1882, the son of chemist. He showed talent for drawing and silhouette cutting from an early age and went on to study art, ending at the Royal College of Art in London where he was awarded the ARCA diploma in 1908.
He enlisted in 1914 and while waiting to start training designed the Think recruitment poster - for which he was paid five guineas.
Its success led to further commissions, including the Remember poster which was used to recruit men for the Royal Navy. The two posters made his name as an artist, and opened the way to have his work published throughout the war.
Museum spokesman Rob Wake said: “His style of work is now synonymous with the First World War, with his many works capturing the many different aspects of the conflict – from famous officers to the men in the trenches.
“But it is his recruitment posters for which he is most well known and we are really pleased to be able to include examples of these in the exhibition - and the actual ones that Oakley kept as his own.”
*The exhibition will take visitors from the recruitment office to the horrors of the frontline. New technology will be combined with the museum’s extensive military, costume and social history collections, including many fascinating objects which have not been on public display before.
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