Red Flag (2018, mixed media)

This challenging piece explores some of the more complex themes that underlie the sparkle and celebration overtly acknowledged around the Christmas season. The title refers to the Communist anthem ‘The Red Flag’, which is sung to the same tune as a traditional German song ‘O Tannenbaum’, originally a song about steadfastness but adopted as a Christmas tune. The slippage between Communist ideology and re-appropriated Christmas music raises questions around the consumer excesses of the festive season, contrasted with the oppressive atheism historically practised in Communist states. The phrase ‘red flag’ is also widely used in discussion of abusive relationships, inviting reflection on the spike in domestic abuse that typically occurs around Christmas, as families feel the tension between the official expectation of merriment and celebration, and the reality of complex and sometimes sadly abusive situations.

The dark pen lines overlaying sparkly plastic gems on the piece’s ‘tree’ suggest profound ambivalence around these themes of consumerism, Communism and domestic violence, making this a hard-hitting exploration of the darker themes that can underlie an ostensibly joyful season.

Note from Amanuensis: Merry Christmas! Our home life is pretty peaceful and idyllic but that is sadly not true for some women living with an abusive partner. If you’ve enjoyed our work this year do feel free to make a seasonal donation to Women’s Aid in recognition of the need to help women and children in abusive relationships, especially around Christmas.