Artists and cultural figures across the UK have reacted to news that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stepped down as leader of the Conservative Party today, ending his reign as Prime Minister. Johnson plans to remain in office until the fall, when a new leader of the Conservative Party is chosen.
Political satirist Cold War Steve, whose collages of DIY politicians have provided a constant commentary on the ups and (mostly) downs of British politics in recent years, tweeted his latest work this morning. It shows Johnson in a spiderman outfit smoking as he sat outside a boarded-up Downing Street, flanked by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries – one of the few Cabinet ministers to stick at Johnson – and a burning trash can.
For the culture sector, there remains the pressing question of whether Dorries – the sixth minister appointed to the post in five years – will remain in office. She took office last September, replacing Oliver Dowden who “enthusiastically used his department to engage in Britain’s culture wars, providing eye-catching political cover for a government often beset by controversy and chaos”, according to the report. art historian Bendor Grosvenor.
Former Conservative culture minister Ed Vaizey remains optimistic, telling The arts journal“Fortunately for us, whatever happens, Stephen Parkinson will probably remain in the [House of] Lords as Arts Minister – he is on the other side of the case, highly regarded and highly engaged. The focus will be on the media side of things – online safety, the privatization of Channel 4, etc. He adds: “The cultural sector can remain calm, and if Nadine [Dorries] remains in place, we can continue to work with her to increase access.
Turner Prize-winning artist Tai Shani is less optimistic about the future. She tweeted yesterday, ahead of the official announcement, that “I don’t think BJ [Boris Johnson] party will make a difference, conservatives are all rubbish but I think his humiliation will be enjoyable! She also reposted an earlier tweet from Johnson spoon-fed a feces emoji, captioned: “Bon appetit titled shit monger – some of your own medicine.”
British artist David Shrigley, known for the dry humor and irreverence of his illustrations, posted on his Instagram the somewhat enigmatic: “Dogs Hereby Allowed in Parliament”. (Only service dogs are allowed into Parliament, according to its rules.) The artist often posts what appear to be oblique references and critiques of current affairs, using his dry sense of humor to gently nudge and ridicule. Although sometimes his works are not so subtle.
Other artists expressed their concerns on their Instagram stories. Sculptor Thomas J. Price, who recently unveiled a sculpture in Hackney, east London, dedicated to the Windrush generation, posted an image of a gruesome bunny with the hashtag #clingtopower. In another post, Price says “the relationship is now over but he won’t be moving out.”
London-based artist Adam Dant, who creates intricate and satirical map prints, has released a series of drawings depicting imaginary scenes inside 10 Downing Street following today’s tumultuous events. A figure resembling Boris Johnson is seen standing on the pavement holding a banner saying Rebel for Life while a love heart saying ‘Boris + Carrie’ is inscribed on a nearby tree.
Fashion photographer Nick Knight was rather enthusiastic about Johnson’s departure, writing “Hooray!!!” on his Instagram account. However, he also called for more action against Johnson and his supporters in government: “And now bring this lying, despicable and absolutely corrupt narcissist to justice for the damage he and his fake government have done to this country.” He also called for an overhaul of the political system to “ensure that a person so patently unfit for high office is never elected again.” Proportional representation now. Enough of this horrible two-party system! (Although the Conservative Party won a large majority in the last election of 2019, more people voted for other parties.)
British entertainer Bob and Roberta Smith say bigger issues are at play beyond a man quitting his job. “It’s not about Boris or his personality, it’s about the inevitable disappointment that Brexit is impoverishing the UK, amplified by the war in Europe,” he said. The arts journal. The artist also criticizes the recent militarization of the arts in the so-called culture wars. “The arts are just one of the corner issues recklessly used by the government to demonize people who don’t think working 24/7 is the ideal solution.” Smith adds, however, that the arts can play a crucial role in managing political divides: “We need a period to build bridges and mend relationships…politicians have gained power by dividing people… those of us who work in the arts know how to create dialogue. and heal wounds.