Advertising poster, 'Australia's 150th Anniversary Celebrations', colour photo-lithograph on paper, designed by Tom Purvis for the Australian National Travel Association, United Kingdom, 1937-1938
This poster marks a key event in Australian history - the sesquicentennary celebrations in 1938 which marked 150 years since European settlement of a land that had originally been inhabited by Aboriginal Australians. The poster was designed by the well known British poster artist Tom Purvis in the Soviet social realist style that became popular during the 1930s for propaganda art.
The poster was issued on behalf of Australia's 150th Anniversary Council by the Australian National Travel Association (ANTA) for distribution in its offices in London, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Shanghai, Wellington, Toronto, Paris, Batavia, Cairo and Melbourne, where ANTA had its Head Office. These locations are identified in the text of the poster.
Tom Purvis was one of the first artists to be made a Royal Designer for Industry in Britain in 1936-37, followed by Milner Gray in 1938, A B Read in 1940, and Australian designer Gordon Andrews in the 1950s. Purvis's graphic style is characterised by the broad massing of strong colour and the elimination of detail. He formed figures solely from masses of colour with outline as illustrated in this poster.
The 1938 British Empire Games were held in conjunction with Australia's 150th Anniversary celebrations and a variety of posters were also produced for this event. These and the 150th anniversary posters aimed to present a nation that no longer clinged to its rural utopia image, but promoting instead a new image of sun, cities and sophistication, visually aided by the completion of the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932. Both the bridge and strong sun tanned European bodies, are repeated used during this period as visual icons for the new nation.
This poster was probably printed in the UK. The Australian National Library also has a copy of this poster which it lent to 'Trading Places: Australian Travel Posters 1909-1990' held at the Monash University Gallery. Tom Purvis posters were exhibited in the National Railway Museum of York's poster exhibition of 1989.
Anne-Marie Van de Ven, Curator
The poster was designed by Tom Purvis in the United Kingdom. The poster was probably also printed in the United Kingdom, 1937-1938.