Earlier this year I was inspired to put my illustration skills to use and come up with an entry for 'The Great British Postcard Competion' (TGBPC):
"Punk legend John Lydon has teamed up with The Big Issue, The Big Issue Foundation and online print company SAXOPRINT to challenge the country’s creative community to design a postcard that reflects their personal experiences of Britain in 2017, and reinvent the tradition of The Great British Postcard."
As a child I had been an avid collector of postcards, and have always been fascinated by their ability to present a snapshop souvenir that can imaginately transport the beholder to a different place and time. I also loved their ability to conjure up an emotional response: be it hilarity, nostalgia or a sense of longing for some idyllic faraway place. There was once a time when you couldn't go on a day trip without coming home with a paper bag full of postcards of some important historical landmark or picturesque landscape. In more recent years the "institution" of the postcard has been replaced by the social media selfie and, to me, this modern form of souvenir has never held quite the same resonance as the original. This was amongst the reasons I was enthusiastic to put on my thinking cap and keep the great tradition of the postcard alive... and with a whopping prize of £5000 up for grabs, I needed little further encouragement!
I found inspiration for my entry: "The End of the Road" whilst walking around the backstreets of Walsall, near my hometown in the West Mids. I'm always drawn towards overgrown industrial sites and the nature that profilerates in urban wasteland: 'the ragged arcadia' as writer Richard Mabey so beautifully describes it. Such spaces are brimming with with hidden narratives, anticipated histories and anecdotes waiting to unfold. They also provide a wonderful insight into nature's "quiet revolution", and place the dramas of human activity into a poignant perspective. When I happened across this particular "unsung corner", in Walsall, it felt fecund with poetic meaning: epitomizing so many of the emotions I had been feeling in response to the confusing political events of the year. At the same time it seemed like such a familiar yet unremarkable aspect of the British landscape; there's an overgrown wasteland like this hiding behind every high street in the country. To me, this felt like a side of Great Britain that the postcards had forgotten, or chosen to ignore, which is exactly why I wanted to celebrate it.
I was absolutely delighted to be shortlisted for the competition. The awards night was a very glamorous event held In London's 'Proud Gallery', where we were treated to an evening of live performances curated by the performance artist Richard de Dominici; as well as speeches by the likes of Lord John Bird (Big Issue Founder and Crossbench peer) and one of my longstanding hero's John Lydon (Sex Pistols, PiL). I could barely believe my ears when Mr Lydon so eloquently described his interpretation of my artwork and then announced my name as the Grand Prize Winner!!
"I nearly fell off my chair laughing. It reminds me of having a cigarette in the backyard of a Great British pub – that’s the view you get.
“I love it. It’s our Britain, from John O’Groats all the way down to Devon. It’s beautiful and skillful, and I want a large print of it!” John Lydon
All that's left to say is a HUGE thank you to Saxoprint, The Big Issue and the prestigious panel of judges for the amazing honour of winning this fabulous competition. I genuinely couldn't be more surprised, thrilled and honoured to have won!
The Big Issue