London, UK, August 2020
Two artists who forged an unlikely friendship over Zoom during lockdown have launched a project to bombard the prime minister with postcards, in the wake of Brexit and the coronavirus crisis.
Postcard for Boris – part political campaign, part art project – encourages creative Britons to express their dismay at the government by sending eye-catching, A6 artworks to 10 Downing Street, as well as posting on social media via the hashtag #postcardforboris.
The project was started by Esther Wragg, an artist from St Albans, and Roma Tearne, an author and artist from Oxford. The pair have never met, but began chatting online after a chance encounter on Instagram. They have been joined by another artist; Esther’s husband Stephen.
“We were in despair at Boris Johnson’s leadership,” says Wragg. “The sun was shining but the world was unreal and dark. Our mood was getting darker – what could we do?”
Tearne adds: “Art is our highest form of hope. In this time of despair all we have is our art.”
The project is a record of the present time, a document of our collective anguish at unfolding events – and evidence of the catharsis brought about by making.
Participants in the project make two similar images, one to send to 10 Downing Street and one to keep for exhibition, at the same time sharing the image and text on Instagram using the hashtag @postcardforboris and #postcardforboris. We invite everyone to take part.
Instagram: @postcardforboris #postcardforboris
#Postcardforboris: Roma Tearne
Postcards from top, left to right:
- This is Maja, a highly experienced medic who is returning to her own country now that Brexit is going ahead. Her talent & her expertise in dealing with COVID-19 will be greatly missed. Her leaving is undoubtably our loss.
- This is Caroline. She is 22. Her older sister was a doctor in an ICU unit but fell ill with no PPE to keep her safe. She has recovered but still feels terrible & has other complications now. In spite of that she is back at work. But Caroline does not want what happened to be brushed under the carpet. She has one single question. Why? Why was our wonderful NHS LET DOWN?
- This image is of an unknown woman who lived & loved and now is just a memory. To forget her is to forget what it is to be human.
- This is Frances. She looks like her granny who died in May of COVID-19 in a care home. Frances is very very upset.
- This is my great aunt Anna who became seriously ill in a care home, recovered from the virus but has severe complications now.
- This is Freddy. Just out of medical school in April and catapulted straight onto the ward of an overworked COVID-19 London hospital. Eager to do whatever he can, he did not have any PPE. Nor is there any testing. Freddy is young however & can survive on very little sleep. Until, that is, his mother rings up in tears. Freddy’s gran is in another hospital up north where there is a shortage of more or less everything needed for COVID-19 patients. The doctors, nurses & all the staff in that hospital are wonderful and are doing their very best despite this handicap. Freddy keeps working, his mum’s anguish ringing in his ears. He keeps working until he thinks he will drop with tiredness. He loves his family & because he has grown up understanding the meaning of compassion, love & decency he keeps on working even after he gets the news that his gran has died. This is Freddy’s NHS. Let’s take a long sad look at what we are losing….
- WHY? This is Leroy, a victim of endless stop and search. Now Leroy is a victim of a different sort. Two months ago his father, a cleaner on the London Underground, died of COVID-19 because he had no PPE. Leroy would like to know why this happened? Why did his father have no protection? Was it because he was just a cleaner? Was it because black lives don’t matter? Was it because his father was old, and poor? Is it only rich people who matter these days? Leroy has nothing now. He might end up homeless. He just wants his dad back. He is young. And clever. But he feels he has no future any more. Leroy was born here. Britain is his home. Please don’t forget his story.
- This is Emma. She is a medic who worked without PPE in an ICU. When one of the elderly men she was caring for died of COVID-19 in April she found that suddenly she was unable to stop crying. Exhausted, for she had not seen her young family for two weeks, she took a few days off, before returning to work. Emma works not for Wealth, Power or Fame but out of a simple love for her fellow human beings. The medical profession is full of people like Emma: selfless, decent and honest.
- This is Josh. His girlfriend Suzy was a nurse. She died of COVID-19 after working in ICU in April. There wasn’t enough PPE to go around & she gave up hers for an older nurse. Suzy was 26.
- This is Sam. He is 25. His grandfather died in a care home from COVID-19. The care workers there were absolutely lovely. They followed all government guidelines to the letter. They worked for so little money, with so much efficiency and with such big heartedness that Sam, who had first-hand knowledge of them, was very moved. Sam plays jazz. Due to the pandemic he has lost his job but he has been busking in Trafalgar Sq to raise money for his grandad’s care home. He was amazed & inspired by the love of strangers. Please please do not forget Sam’s story.
#Postcardforboris: Esther Wragg
Postcards from top, left to right:
- U-turns so far. This is just the stuff they haven’t got away with…
NHS ditched tech. behind C-19 contact tracing app.
2. Free school meals scheme throughout summer.
3. £400 fee for non-EU migrants to use NHS for health care workers.
4. Bereavement scheme giving relatives of overseas born NHS staff who have died fighting C-19 indefinite leave to remain in UK.
5. Allowing remote voting for MPs during C-19.
6. A-level results grading system.
- Well Mr Johnson this is getting more than serious… messing with the NHS, slowly killing it off, privatising bits here and there, seriously underfunding it over the last 10 years, not paying the nurses and care staff in line with inflation (a stab in the back after saving your life), and now it’s on the table for some future trade deal with America. You and your mates voted against protecting the country’s most precious asset the NHS. Three-quarters of the country did not want the NHS to be part of any trade deal.
You are systematically breaking this country for the financial benefit of your mates. Do you really want to be infamous for destroying 72 years of excellent free health care for everyone? The NHS motto is Compassion, where is yours?
- “If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, is it a duck? Or, more pertinently, at the moment, if Boris Johnson acts like a Russian asset and talks like a Russian asset, is he a Russian asset?” Carole Cadwalladr
- @gretathunberg – “Wholeness, morality, truth and long-term mean nothing anymore. Our emperors are naked, every one.”
- #climate change: Road plans will scupper CO2 targets, report says. It adds that if ministers want a “green recovery” the cash would be better spent on public transport, walking, cycling, and remote-working hubs.
- Qui totum vult totum perdit – He who wants everything loses everything.
- If the shoe was on the other foot, Mr Johnson, you would hope for compassion and help in your adversity.
According to UNHCR at the end of 2019 there were 79.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, escaping violence, war, poverty, homophobia and authoritarian rule.
Yet 4 out of 5 people stay in their region of displacement and are hosted by developing countries, notably Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran and Jordan. The proportion of people who reach our shores is very low. Note to @pritipatel – seeking asylum is legal and should be treated with compassion. Innocent people should not be threatened with military and police force. But for luck this could be any of us.
- Getting fed up with waiting for this. Sending as part of @postcardforboris in response to the long-awaited Russia Report. The former chair of the committee Dominic Grieve said the report had been sent to Downing Street on 17 October (2019) and was ready for publication once it had been signed off, a process that usually takes up to 10 days. The Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael, said: “Given the prime minister has for nine months sat on the intelligence committee report into Russian interference of our democracy, his decision to delay nominations to the committee raises serious ethical questions. “This unprecedented underhand behaviour is utterly reprehensible. It leaves the public in little doubt that Boris Johnson is avoiding the truth about the Tory party’s funding connections to Russian oligarchs.” Mattha Busby, The Guardian
- Boris Johnson: “There’s no such thing as a border between England and Scotland”. Ms Sturgeon said it was “such an absurd statement”, and added: “What there definitely is, is a geographical boundary to my powers as First Minister. If the Prime Minister is questioning that now, I’m not sure what he would say if I pitched up in Newcastle and started to try to implement Scottish Government policies in Newcastle.”
- ALONE in Britain
#Postcardforboris: Stephen Wragg
Postcards from top, left to right:
- World Beating UK COVID Death Rate
- Message to Mr Johnson: If you’ve caused our country to SELF-HARM, backing Brexit just to improve your chances of becoming Prime Minister, tearing apart the Union and depriving millions their life chances, then this won’t ever be forgotten or forgiven.
- If this a joke, Boris, no one’s laughing
- Take Back Control
What was it all about: Brexit Campaign’s ‘Take Back Control’?
Obviously it wasn’t meant for us, but rather a plot to concentrate all power in the Downing Street Control Centre.
- Message to Mr Johnson: It’s an unhappy country that doesn’t believe its leader. You told us we had a ‘World Beating’ Test, Track and Trace system until it was dramatically changed yesterday in an inevitable U-turn. We all knew it wasn’t working, if only you felt a moral obligation to speak the TRUTH.
- Chinese nuclear power in the UK!? A Bad, Bad Idea.
“Be our friend or bear the consequences”
Liu Xiaoming, China’s Ambassador, tells the UK: 6 July 2020
- On the same day the Office for National Statistics data showed the UK had the highest excess deaths in Europe, Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the government’s response to the pandemic as a ‘Massive Success’.
- Unsurprisingly our PM’s self-proclaimed ‘robust, good and dependable’ school exam grading system has fallen apart.
An algorithm for division, handily delivering places at university for independent school leavers while the rest are left shattered by the experience of the last few days. Best keep out of the way, let someone else take the heat, and hideaway on a Scottish campsite – nice. This postcard features the heraldic devices from Eton’s coat of arms.
- Message to Mr Johnson: All the hands you shook, all the contagion you spread, whilst always following best scientific advice.
- White Wash
Beware of the those that rewrite history with airbrush, whitewash, and bluster.
Roma Tearne is a Sri Lankan born artist living and working in Britain. She fled to Britain at the age of ten. She trained as a painter, completing her MA at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford. She was Leverhulme Artist in Residence at the Ashmolean Museum, and thereafter she was awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Fellowship. For nearly thirty years her work has dealt with the traces of history and memory within public and private spaces. She has written seven novels, was long-listed for the Asian Man Booker Prize and another film made by Tearne based on this novel, was shown at the National Gallery, London in 2012.
Unusual use of materials are the hallmark of Esther Wragg’s mixed media and 3-D works. Her sensitivity to mark-making and surface texture creates work that has a wistful quality with an emotional connection to the past and her current surroundings. Trained in Textiles at The Royal College of Art in London, she has exhibited widely, with her latest work shown in Hertfordshire Open 2020 which is an online exhibition due to Covid-19. More on Instagram.
Stephen Wragg trained in Fine Art (Chelsea College of Art), subsequently working in photography and design particularly produced many walking and cycling maps promoting health and sustainable transport. In the last few years he has devoted his time to music (his album ‘Instamatic’ was released in 2018; more about his band here: www.raghouseband.uk) and politically motivated visual art projects such as Debris Field, 2019.