Paper Tigers: Posters from Sydney’s Long 70s

NAS Paper Tigers Xmas PartyCelebrating Sydney’s dynamic poster art and public protest movements, from the late 1960s through the ’70s to the early ’80s, the National Art School Gallery in conjunction with Sedition: a festival of art, music and pictures presents Paper Tigers: Posters from Sydney’s Long 70s from 30 August – 12 October 2019.

Artists who went on to make their names – Martin Sharp, Marie McMahon, Chris O’Doherty (as Reg Mombassa), Paul Worstead, Garry Shead – cut their teeth creating music, film, theatre and festival posters, newspapers, magazine covers, album artwork and protest art through the 1970s, a fertile and feral time of cultural awakening and unbridled imagination pulsing in the heart of the city.

With more than 200 posters and pieces of ephemera sourced from private and state collections and the National Art School archive, Paper Tigers revives and re-engages with Sydney’s ’70s counter culture through the themes of music, art, film, theatre, cabaret, feminism, gay liberation, leisure, politics, dances and gatherings.

The exhibition focuses on Darlinghurst’s creative ferment at the time, from outrageous art school balls and the birth of the Nimrod Theatre to the early gay clubs of Oxford St and legendary Oxford Hotel residency of punk rock pioneers Radio Birdman.

The exhibition is the centrepiece of the inaugural Sedition Festival – which aims to provoke and enlighten, connecting art and politics and highlighting social issues still being fought today.

Paper Tigers curators and Sedition festival founders are maverick magazine editor, publisher and author Toby Creswell, and ground-breaking co-publisher Lesa-Belle Furhagen, who worked together on Rolling Stone, Juice and HQ magazines among others.

“It was in Darlinghurst – out of the sight and mind of mainstream Australia – that a group of larrikins, mavericks, ratbags, poets, painters and musicians created a new vernacular.” Toby Creswell. “And so it was that Australian music, for the first time in history, found itself at the crest of an international wave and not paddling behind.”

Many of the posters they have collected were created by students at East Sydney Tech, now the National Art School, and it was in the school’s iconic Cell Block Theatre on 16 August 1977, the night Elvis died, that Mental As Anything played their first gig, after meeting as art students.

Paper Tigers includes the art of Mentals guitarist Chris O’Doherty (aka Reg Mombassa), who has had a successful dual career as pop musician and visual artist.

Paper Tigers: Posters from Sydney’s Long 70s
National Art School, Corner Forbes and Burton Streets, Darlinghurst
Exhibition: 30 August – 12 October 2019
Free admission

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Chips Mackinolty, 3rd Annual Christmas is False Consciousness Eve Party, 1978. Tin Sheds Art Workshop. Screenprint.