During the campaign period for the EU referendum the British media demonised immigrants with a 700% increase in front page stories about immigration reported in British newspapers compared to the previous year. Almost no stories about migrants were positive and some of the articles resorted to fabricating stories to push their agenda, according to a report by Kings College London. The news in the UK is controlled by a small group of media Barons.
In Medieval Europe news was mostly controlled by the aristocracy. Minstrels in Spain challenged this. The ‘Juglares’ carried with them boards on which the often-illiterate townspeople and peasants, the ‘nobodies’ would draw their news. These were then broadcast by Juglares travelling and displaying the boards in neighbouring towns and villages. This was journalism in its infancy.
Informed by the concept of the ‘Juglares’ in September 2017, I set out on a journey. I walked from Glasgow, home to Dundee via Edinburgh with a rolled-up canvas in a bid to capture the zeitgeist of the central lowlands of Scotland. I invited people to add their thoughts, feelings, and opinions to my canvas in each town and village I travelled through. These culminated in a display of ideas ranging from personal grievances to motivational comments in a variety of languages.
Considering the post-referendum climate, my work illustrates diversity in society. The text on the canvas is written in different languages by people I encountered on my journey from across the globe. This diversity and multiculturalism has shaped our society and our culture into what it is now. It is not only fashion and flavour which have been influenced by the weaving of other traditions into the fabric of our culture, but how people relate to each other, how we educate our children and how we support our elders. Scotland has welcomed many cultures in our past and hopefully will continue to do so in our future. Should we analyse a snapshot of any given day in the course of our ‘day and daily’ we may be surprised by just how much our lives are influenced by such diversity and multiculturalism.
In a world which employs propaganda to inform the matters which shape our futures, we have a duty to challenge and question those with the loudest voices. The unreliable voice of the media transformed the rarely heard voice of the northern English counties and exploited it to affect change, promising drastic consequences to the UK. The Odyssey tells of sailors who were duped when they heeded the sweet siren song affecting disaster and shipwreck. The siren song of Brexit was one of xenophobia and intolerance. It sang of British nationalism and exclusion.
Images and text from the canvas carried on my journey have been inscribed as s decorative relief on the surfaces of the bells, which I’ve cast in Bronze. The handles are made from the wood of a stick I found and carried on my journey. The bells allow the viewer to ring them and declare their news, providing a platform to express themselves regardless of the louder voices.
It is time to learn how to discern the truth of the stories we hear and look to accurate reporting of the many diverse voices.