The role of Aberdeen People’s Press in late 20th century activism

A new exhibition is showcasing the printer’s archive of materials from the 70s and 80s, with the aim of elevating its legacy in the history of social and political causes

Aberdeen People’s Press logo

Aberdeen might not immediately spring to mind as a hotbed of political activity in the latter part of the 20th century. However, from 1973 to 1984 a local print shop, Aberdeen People’s Press, served as the vital tissue between many of the city’s activist groups.

Catalysed by greater accessibility and affordability of printing equipment, DIY printers emerged hand in hand with social movements around the world. For over ten years, APP was one such printer. It regularly published an alternative newspaper, pamphlets and books, provided printing services for groups, trade unions and campaigning organisations, and also offered a place for activists to convene.

Aberdeen CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) publication Living on the Front Line, 1981. All images courtesy University of Aberdeen

A new exhibition, Another World is Possible: Aberdeen People’s Press and radical media in the 1970s, is giving insight into the legacy of APP and revising its place in the history of activist media in Scotland and the UK more widely.

Fitting for a printer with collectivism at its heart, the curation of the show is a combined effort from 14 people, many of whom were APP members. The exhibition has been organised by the University of Aberdeen Special Collections and Peacock Visual Arts, the latter established as a printmaking workshop just months after APP.

Oil Over Troubled Waters special report cover, 1976

The show brings together artefacts such as APP’s newspapers as well as a range of eye-catching posters and book covers pertaining to issues ranging from harassment to nuclear waste disposal to the oil industry in northeast Scotland.

The designs included in the show are in many cases brought to life with a concoction of prominent type, restrained palettes and clever symbolism – the kind of deceptively simple strain of graphic design that has cemented campaign groups as essential forces in graphic design history.

Aberdeen Trade Unionists Say Yes For Scotland poster, 1979
Workers Educational Association annual report, 1982
Poison In Our Hills – S.C.R.A.M, 1980

Another World is Possible: Aberdeen People’s Press and radical media in the 1970s runs from July 16 – September 25 at the Worm, Aberdeen; worm.gallery

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes