Here Was Man

by Zbigniew

To mark the occasion of this blog’s 50th posting, a peerless oddity from our the past: the monograph of John Poole-West’s long forgotten gallery presentation Here Was Man.

“Grandiose” would be a kind description. Highlighting human evolution and speculating on humanity’s future trajectory, the 50 images that comprised the 1962 exhibit represent a heroic quantity of sepia-toned cheese. Nonetheless, this atomic age cri de coeur from the land that spawned Greenpeace anticipated current concerns of environmental and social degradation, such disparate cultural fare as 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Omega Man, Zardoz, and The Turner Diaries, and even the “do-it-yourself” cultural production aesthetic.

Questions abound. Where was the exhibit held? Why would Sabena Belgian World Airlines, Belgium’s then national air carrier, sponsor such as bizarre presentation? And, in particular, who the devil was John Poole-West? The answers, like so much in our ever-changing psychogeography, lie buried.

Thanks to the perspicacious Sarah for disinterring this rarity.


“An exhibition of paintings posters and sketches illustrating the story of man’s incredible journey through time from his beginnings to the present day – followed by a thought-provoking and frankly imaginative preview of his hypothetical but possible future.”

Designed and Painted by

John Poole-West

Vancouver, B.C., January 1962

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From the Museum of Vancouver catalogue:

Artifact History

Donor Saw exhibit of Poole-West’s prints/pictures in 1962 (probably at UBC), and purchased this booklet afterwards. Have not been able to locate any other work by John Poole-West.

Physical Description

Booklet/catalogue; red cover done in lighter and darker vertical red stripes; foreground has beige line-drawing of globe with blank beige circle at the centre inscribed with “119” (done by hand using black pen) and large brush-font title in black announcing “Here Was Man”; authors name appears in bottom right corner “John Poole-West” in similar, smaller font; back cover is blank, manila coloured; 1st facing page blank; inside pages are all in sepia-tone; 1st inside page explains, in calligraphic script, the narrative format of this collection of “paintings, posters and sketches”; bottom of page informs that exhibit is sponsored by Sabena Belgian World Airlines; each following page has at least 1 image and calligraphic caption consisting of musings on accomplishments of man and, eventually, on his possible demise as result of nuclear war; 50 images in all; no index, table of contents or publication information.