Students take inspiration from Soviet artwork in showcasing Aberdeen

An exhibition inspired by the innovative poster designs of Soviet Russia will get underway at the University of Aberdeen tomorrow (Friday June 11).

Third and fourth year Honours students in the History of Art degree programme have been looking at the artwork of post-revolutionary Russia.

From 1917 the country’s artists were pioneers in advertising and poster design and many of the innovations they came up with are still heavily used in the industry today.

They looked at the work of El Lissitzky, Gustav Klucis and Alexander Rodchenko and students were then tasked with creating their own posters in the style of the period to promote the University of Aberdeen.

Dr Amy Bryzgel, lecturer in the History of Art, said the aim of the assignment was to get students thinking about the practical side of artwork.

“We wanted to get the students to look at art from the other side – as creators rather than historians – and to reverse the process to see what goes into poster design,” she added.

“Practical art is not usually taught as part of history of art courses and I was worried they would be wary of working in this way but in fact they really rose to the challenge and every student put a lot of effort in. It really gave them a different perspective and was active rather than passive learning.

“In addition to being able to interpret and understand the history behind the posters, it made them think about the University and how to represent it to the outside world.”

Students took a varied approach to the task with some drawing on the Scottish influence, using the colours of the Saltire and even Irn-Bru, while others used the influence of religion in the development of the University or the recent debate over the future of Union Terrace Gardens as their inspiration.

Dr Bryzgel added: “The Soviet period was extremely important in the development of modern design techniques and it has been really helpful for the students to focus on how they can be used today.

“They had to think about what the University of Aberdeen means to them and I think it gave them a real sense of pride about their institution.”

The posters created by the students will remain on display within the History of Art department for the next month and viewing can be arranged by contacting Dr Bryzgel on 01224 272852.