Less than 100 years ago, Britain ruled over the largest Empire the world has ever known.
Along with all the wrongs that inevitably accompany the subjugation of one country by another, Britain also exported a perception of itself that – all these years later – still persists. This is the Britain of Agatha Christie. Grand country houses. Woody pubs. Batty aristocrats. Cricket on the village green. Sweeping green countryside. Thatched cottages. Huntin' and Fishin'. The Seaside. The Houses of Parliament. Public schools. Double-Decker buses. The Royal Family. Throw in a few old legends like Robin Hood and King Arthur and the Round Table and you have a stereotype vision of a Britain frozen in perpetuity. The classic image of the 'Mother Country'. The one that benevolently bestowed her values on over a quarter of the planet whilst pocketing all the resources. But as Dickens pointed out even during the height of Britain's Imperial domination, the reality of British life was somewhat different. Under the stiff-upper- lipped veneer was a society riven with class conflict, poverty and injustice. A land scarred by pollution, disease and urban decay.
It is this contradiction between perception and reality that British artist Mary-Clare Buckle explores in her 'All That Remains' exhibition at The Mojo Gallery beginning on Wednesday 4th May. In her melancholy, sometimes withering – but often playful - examination of Britain at the beginning of the 21st Century, textile artist Buckle exposes all the fraudulent 'Olde Tea Shoppe' clichés by portraying the seedy underbelly, the corporate neglect and the moribund paralysis of a country undergoing the trauma of becoming politically insignificant and militarily irrelevant. A trauma that has led to a crisis of confidence, a loss of identity and an irreversible fracturing of the British union between England, Scotland and Wales. Buckle's message is all the more powerful by being textural – insofar as she is able to highlight, in a literal sense, the threadbare symbols to which the British still cling in order to convince themselves that they are as important today as they used to be.
The subtext, however, is clear. Once the thread comes loose, it can never be put back.
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