The Ulster Museum in Belfast is currently running an exhibition focused on the posters of the First World War.
Entitled Answer the Call, the exhibition covers the development of such artworks throughout the conflict.
Curator of history for National Museums Northern Ireland Dr Vivienne Pollock said the exhibition tracks a change in tone and method as the war progressed: ‘The exhibition was curated to reflect the fascinating shifts in approach during the war. In 1914, the enlistment campaigns appealed to patriotic and moral values as well as a sense of adventure. As the war continued, these public appeals increased in their sense of urgency and their methods became more varied and sophisticated.’
Pollock added: ‘The exhibition features some very recognisable posters as well as lesser-known ones aimed specifically at Irish audiences. Answer the Call shows the messages Britain wanted to communicate during the war period, from appeals to volunteer for the army to calls for financial assistance and support for the wounded. The varying styles were designed to appeal to a range of groups and classes of people.’
At the start of the war, text-based posters were used to encourage enlistment but it was not until October 1914 that a more eye-catching national campaign was set in motion.
By the end of 1915, 89,000 Irishmen had joined the British Army, with numbers equally split between Ulster and the rest of Ireland, and between Catholic and Protestant, Nationalist and Unionist.
By 1918, 200,000 volunteers and conscripts had been recruited in Ireland. Volunteering declined during 1915 and conscription was introduced in Britain in January 1916.
Answer the Call is part of National Museums Northern Ireland’s series of events and exhibitions to mark the Centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Admission is free and it will run at the Ulster Museum until May 2015.