An exhibition is launching at the Civic gallery in Barnsley, which will showcase postcards created by designers in response to the outcome of the Brexit referendum in 2016.
ME & EU: Postcards from Post-EU Britain will open in February 2019 and is based on a project started by designers Nathan Smith and Sam T Smith in 2016 when the UK public voted to leave the European Union (EU).
The two Smith designers implored design studios all over the UK to create a postcard that captured their feelings and thoughts around the Leave vote.
116 postcards were received in total, designed by the likes of Craig Oldham, Jim Sutherland, NB Studio and Kesselskramer.
In an act of solidarity, Smith and Smith also sent the postcards out to creative studios across the 27 EU member countries on 29 March 2017, when Article 50 was triggered and the Brexit process officially started, to “open a dialogue and encourage collaboration”, says Sam T Smith.
The postcards were eventually compiled into a small book, which was published by designer Oldham’s own imprint, Common Practices, in 2017.
The postcards depict the individual designers’ messages visually, says the Civic Barnsley, through both “quiet, personal and heartfelt” means, and “dissenting and defiant” ones.
Illustrator Chester Holme’s contribution is an illustrated image of a Leave voter literally cutting his nose off to spite his face, while NB Studio’s is a broken map of Europe separating the UK from the rest of the continent, and Deanna Halsall has recreated the EU flag’s circle of golden stars, but depicted them as daffodils, with one that has fallen down and died.
“Together, the postcards form a powerful and passionate voice with an underpinning spirt of humour and positivity,” says a spokesperson at The Civic. “Collectively, they’re a visual narrative of a country in transition.”
Sam T Smith adds: “The referendum result made us feel really disconnected, not just from the EU but from our own country and we wanted to do something about this.
“The climate felt like whoever shouted loudest would be heard, but a postcard is actually more of a quieter form, but no less profound and impactful”.
Nathan Smith adds that the two designers chose the postcard as their creative “vehicle” because it is more “personal” and has connotations of travelling between countries and exploring new places.
“We went through other initial ideas such as flags, pin badges, or protest posters, the latter being pretty well covered in all the demonstrations that happened, but we wanted an intimate connection,” he says. “The postcard was the right vehicle: it’s one-to-one and talks of crossing borders.”
Helen Ball, chief executive officer (CEO) at The Civic, says the museum has chosen to exhibit the postcards to enable people to express their views on a “very current and divisive topic”.
“Regardless of your political allegiance or your views on Brexit, the humble postcard and what it represents resonates with us all,” she says. “Me & EU gives the audience the opportunity to consider some new opinions and further define their own.”
The latest in the Brexit saga is that prime minister Theresa May is to face a no-confidence vote from backbench Conservative MPs, who will decide whether or not she will remain the Tory leader.
This comes after May released her draft Brexit deal a few weeks ago, which has not been well-received by many MPs.
Me & EU will run 2 February – 27 April 2019 at The Civic’s Panorama, The Civic, Hanson Street, Barnsley S70 2HZ. Entry will be free. For more information, head here.