Introduction

I was born in Punk’s Year Zero, weaned while my dad morris danced in a folk revival that had to look back as the slogan No Future took hold. The same year the Tate’s “pile of bricks” by Carl Andre exploded in the media and rises in racial tensions broke into violence at Notting Hill Carnival. My year zero is remembered as culture’s struggle with nostalgia and desperation for authenticity, a fresh start made impossible by its own nihilism.

Here, then, begins a fascination with representation and belonging in a country obsessed with (constantly reworked) history. My practice explores how current and future identities are shaped by ideas about the past.

I frequently work with archives and collections to connect the public, especially young people, to mythologies about personal, local and national identity. Throughout Brexit these issues are vital to progressively understand ideas of Englishness based on social equality, inclusion, diversity and internationalism. Even the narrowest narratives of history cannot deny our national heritage of immigrants, colonisers and aspirants.

Reversing the rural to urban migration of my ancestors, I live in Warwickshire and actively seek the idyll of an imagined England.