Cover Talk Saturday 2 June 2 till 4pm


Judging a book by its cover

We ran a competition for illustration students at Salford University to design a new cover for the book. We had 30 entries, which are all on display at the gallery.  David Dunnico and Amy Goodwin, the Exhibitions Officer at Salford, picked a winner and two runners up –
You’ll have to wait until Saturday 2 June to see who won – when I give a talk at the gallery.


John Perivolaris (Left) and social media technologist Christian Payne (Right) pictured at the exhibition. They both feature in a recording of their podcast from Orwell’s grave discussing some of the issues 1984 raises which you can hear at the exhibition. Christian has uploaded two further discussions to his ‘Documentally’ Audioboo pages.
The first is a conversation they had walking into Salford, and the second features Christian talking to me at the exhibition.
John and Christian’s involvement in my project goes back a number of years to a ‘Photography and Security’ event we all spoke at organised by Redeye, the North West photography network.

Union man

Installed in time for May Day is George Orwell’s National Union of Journalist’s membership certificate from 1943 when he was working for Tribune. A big thank you is due to the NUJ for all their efforts in getting the certificate to us for the exhibition.
Photo ©  by Times photographer Sue Foll.


Here are links to some reviews of the exhibition:
Karin Bareman
Artlook (Liz Buckley)
Creative Times (includes interview)
Culture 24 (Ben Miller)

Pictures at an Exhibition

The photographs displayed in the exhibition are shown in this slideshow.

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This site is for the exhibition ’1984 Looks Like This’ by documentary photographer David Dunnico at Salford Museum and Art Gallery.

© of all items remains with the original creators.

Competition Entries Slideshow

Illustration students at Salford University were asked to design alternative covers for Orwell’s 1984. These will be exhibited at Salford Museum and Art Gallery as part of the ‘1984 Looks Like This’ exhibition. The design brief is here. In June a winning design and two runners up will be picked.

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The 1950s saw some covers portray Nineteen Eighty-Four as ‘pulp’ (i.e. a salacious, cheap thrill style of fiction). In the USA the first Signet paperback [left] cover warns of “Forbidden Love… Fear… Betrayal…” and promises the purchaser a book of “terror in a world many of us may live to see”. Although the illustration features some elements as described in the book, such as the pyramid of the Ministry of Truth, or Big Brother poster, other elements such as Julia’s cleavage or the leather clad member of the Thought Police are an attempt to add titillation. By the 1959 edition [right] the pulp style had passed and Winston and Julia had become a wholesome all-American couple on the run from Big Brother.


A 1956 edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four published by Librairie Galimard in France.
The cover features the sum 2+2=4 on the front and 2+2=5 on the back; a reference to the scene in the story where O’Brien tortures Winston Smith until he genuinely accepts that two plus two equals five, or three, or whatever the Party says it equals.

An objective reality (we can all agree that 2 plus 2 does equal 4) was a touch-stone for Orwell in his criticism of intellectuals who ignored the distortion of facts and rewriting of history in the Stalinist USSR. (2+2=5 had also been a slogan used in the USSR to predict the Five-Year Plan would be completed in four years).

Winston Smith had written in his diary, “Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two make four”. Orwell had used 2+2=4 a number of times before Nineteen Eighty-Four.

One quote in particular shows that a central part of the story had been a concern of Orwell’s for some time. In ‘Looking Back on the Spanish War’ Orwell wrote a totalitarian regime would be:

“…a nightmare world in which the Leader or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past. If the Leader says of such and such event, ‘It never happened’ – well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five – well, two and two are five”.