This year marks 100 years since Russian overthrew its Tsarist autocracy. Following the forced abdication of Tsar Nicholas II in March 1917, Russia embarked on a turbulent period as different political and social groups battled to lead the country. To mark the Communist uprising, the British Library have curated a collection of propaganda and memorabilia from different sides of the battles.
Admittedly I didn’t know too much about the Russian Revolution before visiting this exhibition. I had been fascinated by the story of the ‘missing’ Grand Duchess Anastasia as a child, who has since been confirmed as murdered along with her family in 1918. The Russian Revolutionary period is convoluted and involves many different groups with different agendas and methods. The various parties were not only seeking power, but complete overhaul of society as a whole, so they needed to convert and influence the Russian people to their way of thinking… with propaganda.
In a bid to unravel this complicated period, the British Library have set out their exhibition in six stages – The Tsar and his People; Last Days of the Monarchy; Civil War; The Bolsheviks in Power; Threat or Inspiration?; and Writing The Revolution. The exhibition begins in the last days of the Russian Empire, featuring photos of the Imperial family juxtaposed against scenes of millions of Russians living in dire poverty. Peasants were being heavily taxed with little in return so it’s clear to see why there was rising resentment against the ruling classes. An impressive part of this initial section is a first-edition of the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, which was published in London in 1848. Other impressive pieces is a coronation album of Nicholas II and a 1902 letter from the then-future Russian Communist leader Vladimir Lenin asking to use the British Museum’s Library under a pseudonym ‘Jacob Richter’, which he was using to evade the Tsarist police. Russia’s brewing social discord wasn’t helped by World War I, with conscription leading to labour shortages. Many Russians were unhappy over Tsarina Alexandra when she was put in control over the Government while her husband acted as Commander-in-chief of the military. Many were suspect about her relationship with the faith healer Rasputin – who is seen in photographs and as a caricature in pamphlets and posters.
The sections of the exhibition centring on the revolution itself features a range of propaganda and memorabilia from the period, including handwritten notes from Leon Trotsky with annotations by Lenin and pieces of Red Army uniforms. I particularly liked the electronic map of the different groups’ movement around Russia – seeing the Red Army swell, then retreat, before eventually achieving national dominance. Finally, the exhibition concludes with how the Revolution was captured in past tense, with the ruling party using propaganda to keep the status quo.
Using a varied collection of objects, posters, film, photos and other memorabilia, the British Library has provided a fascinating insight into the motivations behind the Revolution and breaks down the myths of what it achieved. It’s certainly heavy stuff and requires a clear head, but is a worthwhile visit from Russian history aficionados or novices.
- Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths is on now until 29 August 2017. PACCAR Gallery, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB. Nearest stations: Euston, King’s Cross or St Pancras. Open Mon, Wed-Fri: 9.30am-6pm, Tues 9.30am-8pm, Sat 9,30am-5pm, Sun 11am-5pm. Tickets: £13.50 (free for members). For booking, visit the British Library website.
To win a pair of tickets to Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths at the British Library, like our Facebook page and fill out the form below. Closing date: Monday 24 July 2017. Winners must live in the UK and be able to visit the exhibition before it ends on 29 August 2017. Only the winner will be contacted after the competition closes.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
Rather predictably, the recent snow flurries to hit the capital didn’t stay long. However, this week, Londoners will be given the chance to experience ‘real’ winter weather while in a bid to win a car.
On 15 and 16 February, a giant snow globe will be popping up at King’s Cross as part of a experiential event. Londoners will be invited to get inside and battle the elements in the hope of winning a Mini Convertible.
If you need some new wheels and think you’ve got what it takes, head down to the station and take part for free.
The Actimel Snow Globe will be at inside King’s Cross railway station, Euston Road, King’s Cross, N1 9AL. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. From 7am-7pm on 15 – 16 February 2017. Visit www.actimel.co.uk for more information.
For a guide to what else is on in London in February, click here.
This month, the brilliant London Wonderground returned to the Southbank for the third year in a row. As well as providing an opportunity to eat and drink alfresco and ride in the funfair, there is also the chance to enjoy a wide range of entertainment over the summer in the pop-up theatre.
One of the biggest draws this season is the fabulous post-post-modern showgirl MEOW MEOW, who is making her London Wonderground début with her dazzling show Feline Intimate. Following her hit West End shows, and a critically acclaimed season at the Southbank Centre, the crowd-surfing queen of song will be wowing the Wonderground for just three weeks only with her unique brand of kamikaze cabaret. Be ready for anything, from Brecht to Radiohead… and her own original material.
Just in time for Memoirs Of A Metro Girl’s 2nd anniversary this week, we have teamed up with Boom Ents to offer you and a friend the chance to win two pairs of tickets to see the sexy chanteuse in action. All you have to do is answer this question in the form below correctly to be in with a chance.
Q) Meow Meow starred in The Umbrella’s Of Cherbourg in London’s West End in March 2011. What theatre did the show play in?
A) The Apollo Theatre
B) The Shaftesbury Theatre
C) The Gielgud Theatre
Terms and conditions
Winners will be selected at random from all correct entries. Winner receives a pair of tickets see Meow Meow at the London Wondergound for any Monday – Friday performance. Over 18s only. Tickets to be collected at the box office with no cash alternative. Tickets are subject to availability and cannot be resold or transferred to another performance. Competition is run by boom ents.
This competition has now closed. Thanks to those who entered. Only the winner will be notified.
- Meow Meow: Feline Intimate is on at London Wonderground from 20 May – 8 June 2014. Wonderground is open daily at Jubilee Gardens until late September. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For more information, visit the London Wonderground website. Ticket prices: Previews 20 – 22 May: £15.50 or Wonder seats: £20.50 (concessions £14). Tuesday and Wednesday £17.50, Wonder seats £22.50 (concessions £16). Thursday – Saturday £19.50, Wonder seats £24.50 (concessions £18).
For Metro Girl’s blog on London Wonderground last year, click here.