As part of our QUEER ART ALWAYS series of commissioned art for audiences in lockdown, we worked with illustrator and curator LEYLA REYNOLDS. Leyla’s project ‘Blitz Sprit’ saw people from around the country request stickers to display in their areas.
Leyla reflects on the project so far…
I began my Homotopia project with the idea of representing a narrative I saw hastily emerging in public discourse. It was as if an invisible flare had been sent up and suddenly all the politicians and significant media actors knew that in order to evoke the collective spirit of the country, what they really needed to do was invoke the spirit of World War II.
‘Blitz Spirit’, as it’s been so casually termed in our collective vocabulary, is “stoicism and determination in a difficult or dangerous situation, especially as displayed by a group of people.” I could see why it was such a tempting sentiment to replicate during a national and international pandemic. There is something so alluring about recapturing that mood of resilience and according to the official definition it seemed our circumstances were nearly the same, right down to the use of the “It’ll be over by Christmas” refrain, so favoured by Boris Johnson. There was also the added context of the global pandemic having onset barely moments after the UK’s exit from the European Union had been ‘delivered’ and English nostalgia was at its peak. We were getting back to what made Britain great.
With that in mind I wanted to replicate some of that publicness within the medium and context of the works. We – Char at the festival and I – decided that biodegradable stickers were the best way to do this, and sent out to wherever the requests came in from, for free. Lockdown and it’s hypocrisies and muddled slogans were being experienced by all of us so it didn’t make sense that the artworks would only be visible to those residing in London (where I live) or Liverpool (where the festival is based). But three months on we’d had requests from multiple locations in those two cities, across Chester, Cambridge, Hemel Hempstead, Runcorn, Manchester and Newcastle. The stickers had gone out to individuals and youth groups, including an LGBTQ+ youth club, with many more to be dispersed over the coming weeks.
Accountability can take many forms, and I hope that during this time of political mismanagement, these small yet widespread provocations can assist in doing just that.
Leyla Reynolds, July 2020
Get involved! To request a pack of stickers, email your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org.