Britain, Take a Bow is a collaborative artwork examining the British social and material landscape since the 2016 EU referendum. Conceived by artist Graeme Crowley, the piece is a collaboration between UK-based artists, filmmakers, typographers, musicians and software developers.
A collection of filmed vignettes, Britain, Take a Bow is a record of the UK since the referendum, reflecting on the ideas of Britishness and nationalism as we struggle with the monumental decision to leave the EU. The artwork’s title is a play on the Daily Mail’s headline – Take A Bow, Britain -- on the 25th June 2016 following the result of the 2016 referendum.
Since then, Graeme Crowley has been visiting pro-leave and remain areas to record short films exploring the people and environments of these places. The result is a library of hundreds of clips capturing coastal towns and seascapes, the majesty of natural landscapes and urban spaces, and daily life in the UK from the sad and mundane to the exciting and uplifting.
Each composite film is accompanied by a four-minute unique mix of God Save The Queen built from hundreds of recorded audio loops created by a host of different musicians, an orchestra, a choir and school children and produced by Paul Crowley. The films are cut with the speeches of key political figures during Brexit debates. Leading UK designers created typographic treatments that are superimposed on top of every composite film. Developers created a platform to allow other filmmakers to upload their own clips to the library. The platform is invite-only and 12 filmmakers from across the UK are currently participating.
Groundbreaking software combines the film, typographic treatment and audio stems in a way that creates a unique experience with each viewing. The system enables over 1.8 billion possible permutations of the national anthem alone, from calm and elegiac to discordant and jarring. No two viewings will ever look or sound identical – in itself a reflection of the complexity of Brexit and the fractured state of public and parliamentary opinion about its meaning. New content is added every day creating a continually evolving artwork.
Artist Graeme Crowley conceived and created the piece, now bolstered by additional contributions from filmakers including Simon Ellis (winner of the International Jury prize at the Sundance film festival for Soft, BIFA award winner and BAFTA nominee), John Smith RCA and Nick Jordan. Britain, Take A Bow also features typographic interpretations of the National Anthem provided by Swifty (Straight No Chaser, MoWax), Malcolm Garrett (a vociferous anti-Brexit voice), Lou Cordwell/Magnetic North and world-renowned designers The Designers Republic, amongst others. Richard Baker and Horace Keating from Tui Media created the software.
Graeme Crowley says: ‘The UK’s decision to leave is complex. Brexit has exposed the divisions across the nation. Britain, Take A Bow is a collaborative attempt to capture daily life from leave and remain areas of the UK through hundreds of filmed vignettes. I’ve made this piece to reflect the fragmentation and complexity of the situation and to expose the anachronistic and sentimental visions of the UK pushed by the architects of Brexit.’
The film can be watched at: https://www.britaintakeabow.org/video.
The film will be shown at Hamburg International Short Film Festival as an installation from 4-10 June, 2019. Graeme Crowley will participate on a panel discussion about digital/AI/algorithmic filmmaking practices at the festival on 7 June.
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Notes to Editors
About Graeme Crowley:
Born in Coventry, the UK's Motor City, Graeme Crowley grew up in a working-class family during the decline of manufacturing and the rise of the service industry. He witnessed the displacement and frustrations borne of the death of an industrial city and sees this as one of the seeds of discontentment leading many to vote to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum. Crowley studied Fine Art at Nottingham University under Chris Wainwright, a friend and collaborator until his premature death in 2017, and completed a Masters Degree in Electronic Art at Coventry University in 1996. He is a principal of Tui Media, one of the UK’s longest established independent digital design agencies. In his private work he has collaborated with architects on public and private installations. This includes TheWall of Light (2003), a 60-metre long permanent interactive installation spanning the wall of a development in Coventry City Centre and Spiral/Bloom (2008), an interactive LED installation for an NHS hospital in Rochford, Essex. The Wall of Light won the Coventry Design Award and was shortlisted for the Oxo Peugeot Design Awards in 2004. A music lover, Crowley worked with musicians Daft Punk for nearly a decade, designing their online presence and the Daft Player/supporting online platform for their seminal album Discovery, which went on to win multiple awards. He also designed sites for MoWax, 4AD and Heavenly records and collaborated with architect Adrian Baynes and
developer Steve Smith on the design of the interiors of several clubs in the Midlands. As part of the cultural olympiad for the 2012 Olympics, Crowley created an interactive, spatial audio installation — The Sweet Spot — for Watermans Gallery in London.
Recent collaborative works include World War Cup (with Simon Ellis) a film about misguided patriotism and tribal thuggery during an England-Germany football match showcased on Nowness and featured in multiple festivals and film programmes and, in 2016, First and Last, a sound installation created for Chris Wainwright's solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei built around the first and final commercial morse code messages. Crowley’s sound installation Calling All, This Is Our Last Cry Before Eternal Silence, featured in the show What Has To Be Done at the Chelsea School of Art, October, 2018.
In late 2018, Crowley presented Britain, Take A Bow as part of the Design Manchester festival and two of his prints featured in the group show I Shout For The Fall: an exhibition, celebrating the lyrics of The Fall at Bury Art Museum.