Red Black 1

 

A long time with little drawing, save these sketches on a simple app on the iphone.  Most are abstract, reflecting my moods and thoughts.  Only one of these relates directly to our having lost our European citizenship and soon to be rights and trading partners, for a bright new future as supplicants of American corporations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now this is not the end …

Once more, on the brink of a deadline for Britain to leave the European Union, teetering there on the precipice, barely held from toppling by parliamentarians demanding scrutiny of the executive, more than a million people gathered from across the country in Parliament Square to strengthen the hand of democracy.

For democracy does not rest simply in a single vote: the plebiscite can be the tool of the rulers, who control the information and who deceive, reward and punish at will.  Democracy sits also within Human Rights, the Rule of Law and public scrutiny, available to all and applying to all.

Boris Johnson is the man of our times: a self-invented shell of a person, without principle, whose sole purpose is to rule.  He believes himself a Man of Destiny, a second Churchill in his own mind.  If you believe that history pivots on the actions of strong or catastrophic individuals, this may prove to be one such time.

Perhaps, in this time, we are coming to an end of a beginning.  We may split first from Europe, then disintegrate to petty nation states, ruled covertly by corporations and led by minor potentates for whom a never-ending quarrel with neighbours serves to distract the populace from poverty, the burning atmosphere and rising waves.

The EU is a means, not an end in itself.  Our real task is building a community, binding together peoples and nations, re-purposed away from supporting privilege, as a tool for social justice and environmental action.

By chance, in Piccadilly, I found myself in a small part of Yorkshire, with a white rose flag and a song book.

 

 

 

The warrior

Henry Moore’s sculpture grew from the shape of a pebble.  I stood behind the bronze to make this sketch, aiming to use just white and light and dark sanguine to define it.  Once home, I couldn’t resist working over the lines again.  I perhaps should have left well alone.

Brexit day has been and gone since I last posted from the Peoples’ Vote march but we seem to be in the same place as that weekend.  I notice that the Labour Party is desperately looking for candidates to fight the European Parliamentary elections.  If you are short of something to do for a few months, it seems a good idea, a political taster.  It might be a way of having fun and meeting new people!  You have to have been a member for a year to stand for Labour, but if you are, you already know they are looking for candidates- check your email feed.  If not, there’s always the independent group who are less fussy who they take.

 

 

 

 

 

Bollocks to Brexit

Here is Parliament Square this evening, as people mill about not quite ready to go home after the People’s Vote march.  The statue of Churchill facing into the gale is silhouetted against the white cladding covering part of St Margaret’s Church.

We are in this odd position in which Parliament cannot bring itself to ratify the treaty by which we leave the European Union with a transition period and without immediate chaos.  All arrangements ending our membership are detrimental to the wider economic and political interests of the UK,  so whatever might be the stated opinions of individual Members of Parliament, psychologically and collectively they just cannot bring themselves to commit this act.

The small number of die-hard radicals of the Conservative Party actively want to leave without a treaty, the so-called No Deal, so they and their class can profit financially from the chaos that will impoverish the majority.  The even fewer Northern Irish Democratic Unionists prop up the government and are unrepresentative of the people of that province.  They reject the treaty because it makes transparent the political reality:  after Brexit, Northern Ireland must have a status different to mainland UK if there is to be no return to a hard border with Eire and the sectarian polarisation that would bring.  My party, Labour, reject the treaty not because it is bad (because all routes out of the EU are bad) but because we have three more years of government by a wretched Conservative Party unwilling to seek a consensus vision for Britain after Brexit.  It is a certainty that the Conservatives will cast in law a post-Brexit settlement which undermines workers’ pay, conditions and rights and environmental protections.  They will be free to enter trade deals with other countries to reshape our National Health Service on the USA for-profit model and prevent government limiting the exorbitant prices of pharmaceuticals.  This is the one chance for Labour to bind the government’s hands.  However, strategically they are on the back foot as Theresa May doggedly refuses to compromise, beyond all reason.

So here I was at the the largest political protest in the UK’s history: a million people united in demanding a second referendum and a chance to reject Brexit this time round or at least a way out the impasse Parliament has created.  Still, even if Brexit were to be overturned, what will we do about the conditions of austerity and inequality which so disaffected people in the first place, and which are frankly so much more important than whether we stay in or leave the European Union?  I begin to realise Brexit is a side show.  In or out of the EU, what we need is political vision which addresses with intelligence and compassion the real issues: planetary destruction, violence and poverty.

Note the most middle class insult ever on a banner (or is this reverse snobbery?) “Theresa May puts the milk in first” with a picture of a cup of tea.

Alternative versions

Alfred Stevens 1817-75 “Truth and Falsehood”: Truth tears out the double tongue of Falsehood and pushes aside the mask concealing his grotesque features.  His serpent tails are exposed beneath the drapery.  The group and its companion, “Valour and Cowardice”, are full size models for the bronze groups on the huge monument to the Duke of Wellington in St Paul’s Cathedral.  London.  Plaster.  [explanatory notes on plaque, Victoria and Albert museum].

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The current relevance of the statue is immediately obvious.  However, my mind was thrown back to 1999 when a cabinet minister declared eloquently “If it falls to me to start a fight to cut out the cancer of bent and twisted journalism in our country with the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play, so be it. I am ready for the fight. The fight against falsehood and those who peddle it”.  The resulting action led to his being jailed for perjury.  I am sure the image shown here is of Truth defeating what were then Falsehoods which we now hold true: religious dogma defeating rationalism, self interest overcoming balanced enquiry, empire over civil society, autocracy scourging democracy.  When the powerful shout loudly about the lies of others and frustrate open scrutiny, it is to cover their deceits.

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Here are alternative versions of my sketches undertaken at the Victoria and Albert a week ago, reworked with conte crayon, paint, knife and (in the third image) digitally enhanced black tones.  Rodin’s tortured twisted Muse spoke  of a deeper truth than Stevens’ allegorical statue, of the anguish and beauty of human existence.  The theatre masks are props to tell a fictional narrative but when the narrative finishes, the masks are removed.

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