Beautifully drawn posters “selling the dream” to the potential tourists of the early 1900s have become artworks in their own right.
Before the advent of colour photos and automated large-scale printing carefully-crafted poster images were pivotal in developing New Zealand’s tourism industry and the country’s national identity. Selling the Dream is an exhibition of classic tourism posters opening at Hastings Art Gallery on December 5. The posters promote New Zealand as an idyllic visitor destination of outstanding natural beauty and adventure, says Hastings City Art Gallery Director Toni Mackinnon.
The exhibition is made up of more than 50 lithographs and silk-screen prints produced by some of New Zealand’s leading commercial artists between the 1920s and 1960s. Sourced from private collections, the posters promote the glamour of travel and New Zealand’s tourism attractions of the day.
The exhibition also features a series of short interviews and a 15 minute documentary Graphic Wonderland, which explore the art, skills and techniques of commercial artists during this period and goes behind the scenes of the industry with fascinating footage of commercial studios including the National Publicity Studios and Railways Studios.
“These wonderful posters tell a story of how we saw ourselves and how the world saw us all those years ago,” says Ms Mackinnon.
Many of the posters are featured in a book that will be on sale at the exhibition, Selling the Dream: The Art of Early New Zealand Tourism produced by Peter Alsop, Gary Stewart and Dave Bamford, published by Craig Potton Publishing. The book was a finalist in the 2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards.
What’s On: Selling the Dream, Hastings City Art Gallery, Eastbourne St, Hastings, 10am to 4,30pm daily until January 17, free.