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Down Under: Whole Serie Enlarge

About the Work

Beneath slickly modern Singapore I found a military bunker and some dusty waxworks including the one of General Percival sitting behind his desk. He is about to surrender Singapore to Japan. He has just been convinced, probably by the chap on his left, that its defence is hopeless. But the British have been bluffed, for they have 85,000 troops while the Japanese have 36,000 and no back up. In 1942 Churchill called its surrender 'the largest capitulation in British history'.
So it appears that a little room under Singapore is where the biggest empire the world has ever seen, started its collapse.

Down Under

In 2009 I went around the world. I had no justification other than accompanying my wife on one of her publisher's business trips. Before we set off, lots of people enquired whether we would be going 'down under'. Yes, we were going to Oz. But at our first port of call, Singapore, as I wandered about aimlessly, my wife away in business meetings, I stumbled across my first down under. I was rather pleased as I now had some additional justification, even a sense of pride in undertaking such an extravagant journey.
Because my wife publishes books in the English language, our trip called at English-speaking countries. Each had evolved, one way or another, from the British Empire. The three things I remember of that organisation is everyone saluting the flag on Empire Day, a big map of the world in the classroom, lots of it coloured red, and my father's Daily Express with its 'EMPIRE and Foreign Desk.'
This trip took me a little below those scanty and superficial memories. Even to this tourist it was clear that there was an underlying and special peculiarity to each of these English-speaking places, established long ago, a long way from their origin in empire.

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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