Sometimes in life you receive news that shocks you to the core. News which wrenches the inside of the stomach, infiltrates the heart and mind, brings tears to the eyes and fills your life, your hopes and your ambitions with darkness. I have lived through the pain of death, and the anguish of heartbreak. And all I can say is that that same physical reaction as I had experienced before once again engaged with my total metal and corporal being when last Friday I awoke to the news that the UK had voted to leave the European Union.
There is much that can be said of a Union which has grown too big, of laws unruly, of an organisation stretched beyond its limits, but there is very little which can justify the decision of 52% of the UK’s voting population opting to leave the EU for what were utterly anachronistic, completely unintelligent and sickeningly ignorant reasons. A wave of xenophobia, which has long infiltrated English society, was normalised by a leave campaign which popularised an exit from the EU as being an excuse to cleanse the country of foreigners and in so doing exercise what they lauded to be the action of “taking the country back”. Such a move does not enable Britain to become in any way stronger, nor more progressive. It is a retrograde step which will see the nation isolated, deprived economically and falling far outside the progressive benefits of a globalised society.
It is a move which has already seen the value of the pound plummet, the political system spiral into disarray, and the relationship of the UK notably deteriorate with its neighbours and allies near and far. In leaving the EU, those who wished to reinstate an England of the past have robbed its future generations of an actively mobile, economically stable future, all the while forgetting, with an unfathomable level of hypocrisy, that the England of the past was a country whose very success and global position had been marked by its own breed of imperialism and abuse of other countries and cultures overseas.
Little more can be said to best express my feelings of dismay at this time. Embarrassment of being English is coupled with my fears of being like a disconnected refuge living abroad without the rights and the freedoms to which I have become so easily accustomed all my life.
In reflecting on this time, I turned to art, as I always have in times of happiness and grief. When I saw the painting by Picasso, Melancholy Woman (1902), I felt engaged by a work of art which appeared to me to sum up the emotions of the moment. Taking a spare canvas, and moving immediately to paint an interpretation of the work, I created my own Melancholy Woman in the abstractive interpretative style which has shaped the body of my recent creations. In repainting this work, I have kept to Picasso’s expertly chosen colour palette, founded of his famously melancholic blue period, replacing his forms with a more geometric gathering.
My melancholy woman laments, like Picasso’s, for an intense heartbreak. I imagine his protagonist wept over some lover, some union lost. My woman also weeps for a broken union. The European Union. Broken by those who entirely misunderstood the modern world, proactively destroying the future of those who might still have benefitted from it. What happens next, no one knows.
© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com