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Strange Maps

192 – Britain Seen From the North

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British-born sculptor Tony Cragg (°1949, Liverpool) left his native land in 1977 to work on the Continent. He now resides in Wuppertal, Germany. This work, entitled ‘Britain Seen From the North’ (1981), is typical of a period when Cragg made floor and wall reliefs out of broken pieces of found rubbish.


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It features the shape of Great Britain, oriented so that east is up, north is left. At that left is the figure of a person, possibly the artist himself, ‘seeing’ Britain from the north. Because of its components, the work has often been interpreted as a comment on the state of the nation at that time, when it went through considerable economic hardship – especially in the north.

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Cragg was British representative at the (43rd) Venice Biennale (in 1988), where he earned a menzione speciale. In the same year, he won the Turner Prize. In 1994, he joined the Royal Academy and in 2002 he received a CBE. In 2007, he won the Praemium Imperiale. Not bad at all for a bloke who started out as a lab technician at the British National Rubber Producers Research Association.

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Jantien van der Vet alerted me to the existence of Cragg’s strange wall map, acquired by and exhibited at the Tate Modern in London.

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