Wines and war zones

Posters for the Inverness Wine Society.

The problem.

Wine is a luxury item. Suppliers import it, whether that's your local branch of Sainsbury's, or your local wholesaler. We don't usually think much about where it comes from, beyond checking that it's from 'somewhere we know we like'.

Not all wines are born equal, however. Some of them come from politically contentious regions, from countries ravaged by wars, and even from countries currently in a state of war. While, in the west, we sit and enjoy a glass of wine, the people producing it may be in danger of losing their livelihoods - or their lives.

The approach.

The Wine Society were kind enough to allow me free rein on this project, within reason. I immediately felt this was an excellent opportunity to move away from the stereotypical wine tasting poster styles, and attempt to make a profound point about the country of origin of the wine.

The first country that presented this opportunity was Georgia. Relationships between Georgia and Russia have long been fraught; as recently as 2008, civil war in Georgia resulted in one side being supported by Russian troops, leading to the Georgian government accusing Russia of annexing part of their country.

The poster is intented to be as striking and militaristic as possible. An official picture of Putin, with a token obscuration of his eyes, is used, along with red typography set in Helvetica, often called 'the typeface of corporations' and even 'the typeface of war'. The final touch comes in the scoring out of the word 'Russia' in favour of Georgia.

A sharper point.

The Georgian wines poster was well received, with the Wine Society enjoying what they considered to be its obvious wit. The next country, however, was Lebanon. In spite of immediately thinking of The Human League, I realised this was an excellent opportunity to hit harder.

Lebanon is a small country bordering Syria and Israel, and the list of conflicts it has been a part of in some shape or form makes for depressing reading. However, I was struck by the obvious resilence of the people; in spite of their country being bloodied by years of war, they have consistently produced extremely fine wines. The circumstances under which they did so, I felt, needed to be highlighted.

The first problem was imagery. Casualties of war were obviously out, but there are more than one kind of casualty: the loss of a building, or a warehouse, or an inventory, can also be cause for great distress. With that in mind, I sourced a picture of a shelled-out warehouse in Lebanon's industrial/commercial district.

Next came the content. I took the decision to include non-event related text; in this case, the list of years of conflict, along with the totals for injured and killed. This was deliberately left understated and without explanation; I felt that the Society members would be perfectly able to make the connection with a little thought. Overlaying the building is the Arabic text for 'Lebanon', and the poster is completed with a title and discreet event details.