PASSPort Britannia at Safehouse 1, Peckham, London
An international group show, PASSportBritannia invited artists to respond the current political flux in Britian due to the triggering of Article 50, on March 29th 2017. The British goverment is spending 500 million pounds on creating a post Brexit identity for Britain. Britannia has from Roman and Greek times been a name that went beyond the geography that Britain is today; under the reign of Queen Victoria, Britannia became the female personification and an emblem of the power of Britain. What does British identity mean today for those who currently call it home?
The work Broken Britain deliberately plays with and inverts the rhetoric surrounding immigration and xenophobia that the Brexit debate brought to the fore. Made from fragments of plates sourced from the countries of origin of the top 13 immigrant communties in the UK, the shards are held together using kintsugi gold fixing which emphasises the brokenness of an object and highlights it as beautiful feature, a marker of the object’s past. Coming together as a cohesive whole to make one large plate, each fragments retains its own unique pattern and heritage but forms part of a beautiful tapesty of shape and colour. The broken edges of the shards also mirror the immigrant experience – you break from your past, your country of origin and often your family, and you carry that brokenness with you.
The piece was then carried until it broke along its natural faultlines into three sections, mirroring the UK mainland – the divisions and tensions Brexit has highlighted have always been there, but pressure and fear has made them surface and crack. Each fragment was displayed in a different part of Safehouse 1.