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About the Work

Before 1997, and unlike in the United States, popular culture in Britain had never integrated with great occasions of state. All this was to change in the early autumn, following the sudden death of Diana, Princess of Wales. In Britain, great occasions of state had been segregated from popular culture since at least early Victorian times. This segregation had probably been prompted by the responsibilities of Empire and found form in those stiff upper lip characteristics for which the British, in particular its royal family and upper strata, were renowned - understatement, self-restraint, calculated emotional distance. This behaviour had influenced most classes of British society. The American media, while sharing the response of their transatlantic cousins to the tragedy, added something extra: an astonishment at new, emotionally sensitised, Americanised Britain. Their view was to be reinforced by the subsequent events surrounding the trial and conviction for murder of Louise Woodward, a British au pair working in Massachusetts. Shown here is the response of Woodward's supporters when she was first convicted and sentenced (right panel) and their response after the judge reviewed her situation (left panel). In November 1997, The Spice Girls, probably the most successful British pop group since The Beatles, were enlisted by the Royal British Legion in the annual commemorations for British and Commonwealth war dead. They each read a line on television from that well-known poem ending
"We will remember them
We will remember them"
I started Britain Today intending to make a triptych about these three events. Unintentionally, I ended up with a Coat of Arms for a new Britain.

About Vaughan Grylls

Born 10th December 1943 in Newark, Nottinghamshire and attended art schools at Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Goldsmiths' and the Slade. He has taught at several art schools in the UK and the US.

From 1996 to 2005 he was Director of the Kent Institute of Art and Design. In 2005 he resigned to concentrate full-time on his own work after joining the Kent and the Surrey Institutes of Art and Design to make the University for the Creative Arts.

″I still use the same approach to my work: I get an idea, think of the title and then make the work. So not much has changed since 1964″

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