Thursday 19 September 2019

Cold War Steve celebrates ‘wonderfully diverse’ Britain in new work for gallery

The image – featuring the likes of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Stormzy and Moeen Ali – is on display at the Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art.

Harold, The Ghost Of Lost Futures by Cold War Steve (National Galleries Scotland)
Harold, The Ghost Of Lost Futures by Cold War Steve (National Galleries Scotland)

By Alistair Mason, PA

A rare uplifting image from cult internet artist Cold War Steve has gone on display at the Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art.

Christopher Spencer, who has amassed nearly 200,000 followers on Twitter with his satirical, celebrity-themed images under the Cold War Steve name, has produced the work for the Edinburgh gallery’s Cut And Paste – 400 Years Of Collage exhibition.

But while he describes the Photoshop collages that made his name as “Brexit dystopian hellscapes”, his latest image – entitled Harold, The Ghost Of Lost Futures – is intended as a celebration of multicultural Britain, featuring famous faces including Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, musician Stormzy and England cricketers Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid.

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(National Galleries Scotland)

Spencer said: “For this composition, I wanted to move away from my usual Brexit dystopian hellscapes to produce something visually and spiritually uplifting.

“I was inspired by Martin Creed’s neon ‘Everything Is Going to Be Alright’ installation, which is blazoned across the gallery’s frieze.

“Martin Creed almost certainly wasn’t implying that everything is actually going to be all right, but I thought that even in the depths of despair, it is somewhat comforting to remember that a large part of Britain is still wonderfully diverse, compassionate and inspirational. This enormous collage is a celebration of Britain’s diverse and creative magnificence.”

Cold War Steve has risen to prominence over the last three years creating downbeat collages featuring politicians including Boris Johnson, Kim Jong-un and Boris Johnson, alongside celebrities like Cilla Black, Morrissey and Steve McFadden.

While inclusion in those artworks could be seen as a dubious honour, many of the celebrities featured in Harold, The Ghost Of Lost Futures have reacted with pride.

Director and actor Kathy Burke said it was a “lovely thing” to be included and Sherlock star Mark Gatiss said he was “so honoured”.

Actor Les Dennis said he was “thrilled”, radio host Nihal Arthanayake said it was “amazing” and artist Grayson Perry tweeted: “I feel truly enobled, bless you.”

DJ and TV presenter Lauren Laverne said on Instagram: “Deeply honoured to be included in @coldwarsteve’s new work – a first for him, celebrating the UK’s cultural diversity. As in life you’ll find me between @idriselba and #michaelsheen mere inches from #hilarymantel.”

Harold, The Ghost Of Lost Futures is on display outside the Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art’s Modern Two building until October 27.

PA Media

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