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Student Showcase Archive

Gurnesha Bola

MA work

MA work

The Art of Advertising Indian Cinema: The Changing Identity of Hand-Painted Bollywood Film Posters and Hoardings

This dissertation will trace the changing identity and value of the hand-painted Bollywood film poster and hoarding from cheap ephemeral advertising to art object. Today, one is more likely to find the hand-painted poster and hoarding in auction houses and gallery and museum collections across Europe than pasted onto the walls of Mumbai’s cinema halls. Collected and valued as art, these objects have undergone a significant shift in the way they are viewed and consumed. This research aimed to explore this change with a particular focus on the role and experience of the maker. By centralising the maker in this design history I aimed to explore discussions of craft, art, collecting practices and value (specifically economic and cultural value).

The limited academic history available on these objects thus far is largely concerned with their changing aesthetic properties, influenced by social, political and technological changes, as well as various artistic and stylistic preferences. I aimed to understand the changing identity of these objects and particularly how the makers may have either contributed to or experienced these changes. I argue that repositioning the maker within this history offers a more nuanced consideration of the not only the content but context of these objects including their production and consumption over time.



  • MA Degree


    School of Arts & Humanities


    MA History of Design, 2019

  • Gurnesha Bola is a design historian, whose research focuses on the changing value and identity of craft, the tensions between 'art' and 'craft' and how this changes as objects move geographically, and the role of the maker and embodied knowledge in production. Her MA dissertation entitled: 'The Art of Advertising Indian Cinema: The Changing Identity of Hand-Painted Bollywood Film Posters and Hoardings' drew extensively on interviews she conducted with hoarding and poster makers for Hindi-language cinema in Mumbai in summer 2018. She is interested in ways of centralising the experience of makers and producers in object-based research.
  • Degrees

  • BA (Hons) English Literature and History, University of Birmingham, 2016
  • Experience

  • Editorial Assistant, Apollo magazine, 2016–18
  • Exhibitions

  • Interactive Object Histories, RCA Hockney Gallery, London, 2018; History of Design Graduate Show: Making Design History Accessible, RCA Dyson Gallery, London, 2019
  • Awards

  • Dissertation Distinction, 2018 (RCA)