THE BLOG

Brexit: Finding A Voice Through Art

08/11/2016 12:18

The Brexit vote was a confusing time for the public. We'd suddenly become authority voices on immigration and EU spending. "Apparently" started most conversations about the decision and we were enraged on Facebook when our friends had conflicting views. Where else could we take our anger but to Twitter and Facebook? And then it was decided - we want to leave. So we're back on Facebook and Twitter, with our anger, confusion and happiness.

Success or regret? Whatever our thoughts on the outcome, where could we go to express them other than social media? We were empowered with such an enormous decision and then stripped of our power once it was done. Particularly for us fluent in social media, it was natural to take our voices there, but should it stop there? What else can we do? While we're uncertain about what the future holds for Brexit, we've spurred a wave of political art.

Arts funding will be greatly affected by the decision to exit the EU and so it's fitting that artists reply in the way they know how. Artists have been listening to the country's conversations post-vote and channelled them through their own media.

Rufus Norris from the National Theatre initiated the 'listening project' to help form a cultural response. He states that "this has been a huge wake-up call for all of us to realise that half the country feels that they have no voice. If we are going to be a national organisation we must speak to and for the nation. Our principal response initially is to listen: to listen to that voice and art will follow from that."

Benjamin Kay and Craig Proud, founders of Nottingham Risograph print studio Dizzy Ink, created the #ThreeMonthsOn exhibition at the Quad in Derby to turn opinions into print. It is an open and interactive exhibition that invites the public to contribute to its growth. They pasted the walls of the gallery with black and white speeches and campaign media used in the run-up to the referendum. Over time this will be covered by the opinions of the public with Risograph printed posters and a bucket of wheat paste.

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"We felt like the topic of the exhibition was something touched and affected each and every one of us in this country and also around the world, in one form or another."
- Dizzy Ink

They are printing 100 copies of each artist's poster which are available to be pasted or taken away by visitors -along with a wheat paste recipe. As well as inviting artists to submit their responses, they have been running workshops for members of the public to attend and create work in that session which will then be printed and available to paste. The exhibition sparks conversation and then offers a space for people to have their say.

"The country was torn in two and we were able to provide a space where people were free to voice their opinions freely and respectfully."
- Dizzy Ink

Giving people a creative and physical outlet for their thoughts not only helps to bring a bit of sanity but also aids in getting young people involved in politics. Young people aren't without opinion, they just haven't been given the space and encouragement to voice it. Craig and Benjamin also took social media into consideration and set up the Twitter account @ThreeMonthsOn for people to send their 140 character feelings on the referendum, three months on. These are live printed in the exhibition and can be stuck on to the walls by members of the public who concur. There's really no excuse not to get involved. The exhibition is running until Sunday 20th November.

Art is non-discriminatory, and so anyone can voice their opinion. We might feel at ease Tweeting our feelings but we want to know that our voice has made an impression beyond a retweet. The Listening Project and Three Months On are paving the way for new platforms for social and political conversations -that we can all be a part of.

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