‘Glyndwr’s rebellion was precipitated by conflict with Reginald Grey, lord of Rhuthun. The two men had neighbouring lands, and dispute arose over a certain piece which Grey seized. When Glyndwr sought redress through Parliament, he was rebuffed. Parliaments response to warnings against such an attitude in the face of growing Welsh dissatisfaction was, ‘What care we for bare foot rascals?
Taken from: National Redeemer: Owain Glyndwr in Welsh Tradition By Elissa R. Henken
This week I took down an exhibition that I had curated and exhibited with at The Sho Gallery in Cardiff, on Womanby St. The exhibition took place within Wales’ first ever Independence festival ‘IndyFest’ and my work was created in direct response to thoughts on national identity in Wales.
The following words are my artist’s statement which accompanied my work:
“I find national identity quite difficult to give shape to as I agree with the notion that there are more differences within cultures than between them. I think there will always be conservative-minded people who want to connect national identity to only the culture of the establishment of the day and I think that this is doing a country a disservice. I found my secondary school to contain within it a clash between cultures that every now and then represented themselves (I think now incorrectly) as Welsh and English and that was quite interesting to be a part of.
I think Wales now has to define itself more than ever as a culturally and historically rich country because corporate homogenisation has been squeezing the individuality from wherever there is money to be made, but now the balance has tipped and progressive individuality is what will gain Wales financial confidence.
Created specifically for this exhibition, this work is an offshoot of a graphic novel I’ve been working on for some time called ‘Box-Son’, a story about an insanely damaged man raising two children; Gwenallt, and Box-son (a son kept locked in a box). ‘Box-son’ deals with various ways that we suspend our empathy for people.”
This exhibition was made possible thanks to a financial contribution by YesCymru. To find out more about their campaign for Welsh Independence, visit yes.cymru
I don’t know if it’s fair to compare the voters of Trump with the voters of Brexit but mascots for both movements tugged at the same fears and nostalgias. There’s some information flying around that Trump voters were largely financially safe so that’s why i can’t fully compare it to Brexit (even though I’m not sure that i believe that broke people didn’t vote for him by the basses) but with Brexit it seems that the only way I can understand the vote is that it was a fuck-you vote from the areas of the UK (funny name) that weren’t included in the shift to a more liberal outward looking society( https://www.ted.com/talks/alexander_betts_why_brexit_happened_and_what_to_do_next?language=en ) . And also a fuck-you vote from hardworkers who had been shafted into extreme poverty by a country that no longer valued hard graft (if it ever did) but who saw funding going to all sorts of projects around them that they weren’t included in…. I don’t know.
‘Box-Son: The object of Your Affection’ is an image-a-day comic strip detailing the non-adventures of a father and his two sons. One of the sons is kept permanently in a wooden box.
The ‘Box-Son’ cartoons are born out of surreal comedy sketches, but carried on with an intention of rebelling against judgement against a character who is by modern morality; irredeemable. My recently submitted dissertation commented comedy’s rising use of morality issues. The comics known for being controversial or cheaply edgy (I number-crunched one of Jimmy Carr’s sets in particular because he has also written a very in depth book on comedy. and so knows his context a bit) tended to deal with pedophilia, domestic abuse, and disability, also with a regular inclusion of jokes concerning homosexuality. But Jimmy Carr’s sets deal in offensive concepts handled ironically. They are almost without empathy towards anyone that isn’t in the joking crowd, even when the comedian breaks his thin character to admit the moral difference between what is said and what is felt.
Modern cheap-shot offensive comedian’s sets deal in offensive concepts handled ironically. They are almost without empathy towards anyone other than the jokers/entertainers. ‘Box-son’ I hope conveys empathy towards the insanity and hopelessness of the situation that the characters live in.
Some of the outcome of the story so far is born out of a combination of my dissertation studies, and reading Youtube comments. My dissertation led me to try to suggest with my work that a combination of art and comedy can be a strong moral compass. I’ll post more about this on a separate blog, but for here I think it will do to say that this view led me to want to see a story in which the main character was beyond redemption by modern popular moralities standards, but which struggled to give the character hope and empathy regardless of this.
I read Youtube comment sections on popular TV and Movie Fictions such as Breaking Bad and The Godfather, stories which specifically deal with the moral decline of an initially likeable character. There is a surprising amount of excuse making and support on behalf of the character’s worst actions. Audiences want to empathise with the main character to the point that they will create justifications for morally unjustifiable actions.
It’s this kind of audience that I would like to see tested more in modern entertainment/arts.This is roughly what i’m suggesting through ‘Box-son’. Stories which force the audience to question their strong urge of loyalty to a main character.
‘Box-Son: The object of Your Affection’
Written and illustrated by osian grifford. Created by osian grifford and Buffy Dunhill.