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  • Writer's pictureMadeleina Kay

Welcome to Wangland - Sculpture

Initially I was concerned that my “Wangland Flag” was too childish to submit for the CSM MA interim show – but, after some encouragement from my tutor, I decided that if I’m going to go with childish political commentary, I might as well go the whole hog (pun absolutely intended)…

Not satisfied with merely pinning the (potentially offensive) flag to the, wall I had an idea for a free-standing sculpture from which the flag would hang. I started off by making a very sketchy drawing of what I had in mind along with a "mood board" of inspiration images. This inspiration was definitely influenced by my 2 years living in Edale, where the farming community is very polarised between left and right wing politics; I have a very fond memory of a former Tory MP proudly showing me his Christmas card from David Cameron whilst I tried not to roll my eyes and laugh; as well as a Labour party activist starting a furious dispute on the village mailing list after another villager was waxing lyrical about her former private all-girls school in Sheffield. I wanted this sculpture to be both quintessentially English and divisive.

·  Wooden frame from which the flag can be suspended of English B&B / Farm signs you get all over the countryside marking out people's territory / the entrance of their property.

·  Trad metal pail which is big/sturdy enough to support the wooden frame and set the wooden post in the bucket using plaster of paris.

·  The letters "PIG'SWILL" on the bucket - deliberately ambiguous so it can be read as "PIG SWILL" or "PIG'S WILL".

·  In the bucket would be a selection of “gutter press” newspapers which promote nationalist / hateful narratives, Daily Mail, Express, SUN, etc. which also oppose Scottish independence oblivious to the fact that the English political hate-peddling is part of the reason Scots want to leave...

Fortunately, I had two pieces of identical wood which were the perfect size (I didn’t have to use the saw once) for this project. My first job was to set the upright post into the steel pail with the plaster of Paris. I added significantly less water than the instructions advised, as I wanted the plaster to be very thick and therefore strong enough to support the weight of the frame and the flag. This was a delicate exercise, and after the plaster formed clumps from not adding enough water, I then nearly added too much. Because I need to transport the sculpture to London, I decided to make the upright post removable; the only way to do this was to wrap a thin, waterproof bin liner around the wood and before setting it in the wet plaster. I cellotaped the bin bag in place so that it would remain as tight to the wood as possible.

I got some more pieces of wood and used my dining room chairs to hold the upright post in place until the plaster had set… AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: I SHUT THE CATS OUT OF THE ROOM SO THEY WOULDN’T KNOCK IT OVER. Once the plaster had set, I was able to cut the wood out of the bin liner and slide it out of the plaster. I was worried the bin liner would get stuck but it came out pretty easily and the wood could slot in and out of the plaster easily, but without being too loose. I was genuinely amazed that everything went to plan – Hallelujah my problem solving skills work!

The next step was painting the bucket. I woke up at 7am on Saturday morning in a panic because I realised I might have not allowed enough time for the oil-based metal paint to dry before I had to transport the sculpture to London (on Sunday afternoon). The internet advised 24 – 48 hours drying time…. So, I got up immediately and started painting – praying it was long enough for it to dry (totally needlessly as it turned out – it dried within 12 hours – I really need to chill the fuck out). I chose a bright red paint which resembles blood, probably because I think the “gutter press” included in the sculpture have “blood on their hands”, as a result of the hate which they incite. I started by cutting strips of paper to the size of the area I wanted the lettering to fill and then write out “PIG’SWILL” a few times until I had got the sizing right. The bottle of paint came with a brush attached to the inside of the lid – but it was awful and made very scratchy marks. I tested a couple of other brushes on paper before attempting to write the lettering onto the bucket. I applied the paint to thickly so it dripped in horror-movie style, but I quite liked the visual metaphor so stuck left it (with the exception of the “P” which unintentionally turned into an “R”, which I had to amend for legibility.

The next task was to create the wooden frame. The sculpture needed to be transportable, so I decided the best way to fasten the upright and horizontal posts was with bolts and nuts – which would involve some drilling. I am proud to say that I did the drilling all by myself without asking my Dad for help because I am a bigly grown up who doesn’t believe in gender norms. I tested the drill bit on a spare piece of wood to ensure the hole would be the rights size; wide enough for the bolt to fit through without being loose. I put two bolts into the wood at diagonals to hold the horizontal post in place. I also screwed two metal hooks into the upright bar from which to hang the flag.

The final element to add to the sculpture was the “gutter press” newspapers. I will not deny I had moral qualms about purchasing copies of these newspapers and inadvertently funding their hate. I posted a query on Facebook to see if anyone had any suggestions for circumventing this inevitability. Unfortunately, most of the suggestions were not possible or impractical: my doctor / dentist waiting rooms don’t stock papers (there’s a funding crisis in the NHS!); I tried rummaging through recycling bins – all I found was copies of the Guardian and the Observer (my Dad sarcastically commented that people who wing right-wing media probably don’t  believe in recycling and climate change); All the local shops stock newspapers on “sale or return” so they also couldn’t help; finally, I wasn’t going to “steal” copies – as many people suggested – I was hoping for an ethical solution!


In the end, I kept monitoring the newspapers over the course of a week and purchased copies of the Daily Mail, SUN and Daily Express which had headlines which were relevant to messaging. If I am honest, I was mortified that I resorted to buying them, I was acutely embarrassed and avoided looking at the till assistant – but sometimes art necessitates morally dubious actions.

I am excited to see the sculpture in a more industrial / bare setting – my beige carpet and embroidered curtains are not the ideal back drop for this particular piece! I am proud I somehow, miraculously, got both cats to sit in front of the sculpture for this photo! The next task is to get the bloody thing down to London for the exhibition... Given that the bucket full of plastr of Paris is extremely heavy, the wood impractically long and I also have to bring my suitcase, guitar and rucksack.... This could be an interesting journey!

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