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Your Country Needs You

  • Object:

    Poster

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1997 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    The British Army (publisher)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Colour offset lithograph

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Army Careers Office

  • Museum number:

    E.507-1998

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case 3H, shelf 3

This poster, issued by the Army Careers Service in 1997, takes an iconic image of Lord Kitchener created by Alfred Leete in 1914 and replaces his face with that of a young black man. The original Leete image was featured on the cover of a weekly magazine, London Opinion, before being taken up by the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee and used as a poster to help recruit soldiers to fight for Britain in World War I. Lord Kitchener had spent most of his life serving in the British armed forces in Palestine, Egypt, Sudan and South Africa. In 1914 he was appointed Secretary of State for War and, through Leete’s image, his accusing finger, steely gaze and handlebar moustache became instantly recognisable.

Much reproduced by subsequent artists and designers, the image of this formidable historical figure is used here in a British Army recruitment campaign directed at Britain’s black and Asian communities. Following accusations of racism within the British forces in the mid-1990s, in 1997 the new Labour government insisted on a proactive recruitment campaign and percentage quota targets. This led to a slow rise in the numbers of ethnic minority recruits; from less than one per cent (0.7) in 1996-7 to about two per cent in 1999-2000, and almost six per cent in 2002.

Physical description

British Army recruitment poster directed to the black and Asian community. Poster design reuses Alfred Leete's iconic 1914 image but pastes a black face over that of Lord Kitchener.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)

Date

1997 (made)

Artist/maker

The British Army (publisher)

Materials and Techniques

Colour offset lithograph

Marks and inscriptions

"YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU" // Britain is a multi-racial country. It needs a multi-racial Army. Ring 0345 300111 to find out how we're making the Army a better place for ethnic minorities to work. Or call 01252 334 850 to talk directly to a Black or Asian soldier.

Dimensions

Height: 59.3 cm, Width: 42 cm

Descriptive line

Poster, 'Your Country Needs You', recruitment post for The British Army directed to the black and Asian community, 1997

Materials

Paper

Techniques

Colour offset lithograph

Subjects depicted

Soldier (Guardsman); Recruitment

Categories

Black History; Advertising; Posters

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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