This bright and cheerful poster wishes ‘Happiness, health, success in work in the New Year!’. It was made in Kyiv, Ukraine in 1973. Such wishes are needed now for Ukraine in 2022 as it suffers under attacks from Russia.
The text, in Ukrainian, which spells out ‘Happiness, Health, Success in Labour in the New Year!’ are in the shape of a fir tree, topped with a red star. New Year was an important festival in the USSR or Soviet Union (which included Russia and Ukraine), after Christmas was banned by the Bolsheviks in 1917. People celebrated New Year with presents, cards and good wishes, and a new year tree called a yolka [Ёлка] like the one represented on the poster. The yolka was sometimes decorated with a red star which symbolised the communist government of the USSR. The red star was ubiquitous in the Soviet Union: on buildings, military badges and all the flags of the republics that made up the USSR.
Ukraine became part of the USSR (the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) in 1922 after the union was formed following the Russian Revolution of 1917. Ukraine was the largest republic in the union after Russia, and was the location of many important resources. These included strategically important geographical areas such as the ports on the south coast, and industrial facilities, particularly for energy. This is reflected in the buildings shown on the poster behind the yolka tree; the composition features not only cosy homes but also factories and pylons.
The poster was designed by Galina Tikhonovna Kislyakova (1931 – 2011), a poster, book and animation artist based in Kyiv. She was born in Vladivostok, but lived most of her life in Ukraine, studying at the Kyiv School of Applied Arts from 1949 to 1954. She was awarded membership of the Union of Artists of the Ukrainian SSR in 1964. She worked on the mosaic decoration of the Dovzhenko cinema in Kyiv, which may be under threat of destruction now along with the rest of the capital.
Galina Tikhonovna Kislyakova contributed an anti-war poster to a competition held in Moscow in 1985 called ‘The poster in the fight for peace, security and cooperation’. If she had lived to see the devastation that is being inflicted now on Ukraine she would surely have been horrified. She, along with most of the world, would be wishing for happiness, health, success and mostly peace for Ukraine in 2022.