I love large scale historical paintings with numerous figures, billowing robes, dramatic scenes, chiaroscuro, and horses, yes lots of horses, important people and moments in the history of mankind. Its also very unfashionable and has been consigned to the museum. I am currently incorporating everyday people, who are important to me and represent elements of contemporary culture into paintings that depict important times in British contemporary history. I had a really great conversation with Oliver from Sotheby’s yesterday. He totally got that the Cabinet War rooms, where I have based my painting on, is a holy relic of British history (see above image as work in progress). My contemporary figures are delivering a different kind of energy into the room. As much as I have been bought up to revere the ideal of Britishness, and have an ingrained allegiance to The Queen and the armed forces, (people who come from a military family will understand) I do also see the flaws in the plan. I had another conversation on the same day about the painting. This person declared that they were only interested in making art for the future, and asked me if I wanted to reinstate the British Empire. The first problem with this reading of me and the work is that I have no desire to see the return of Britain as an Imperial super power. In fact the idea of any global super power is repulsive to me. Colonialism is repulsive, but the second world war is an extremely important point in History particularly as this is when British Imperialism began to decay. The influences are still being felt today globally. The other logical issue is that in order to make a better future we need to truly understand the past. I am not nostalgic for a return to the British Empire but it is a universally recognised fact that many people in power in Britain now, are hanging onto these outmoded ways of thinking. Our politics are changing rapidly, we have just seen off a hefty fascist attack from organisations like UKIP and our utopian dream of being part of Europe has just exploded. I am building a series of paintings that aim to describe our current sate of disarray using various points in history and people of cultural importance, where the status quo has been challenged and there has been revolution for good or bad. I wish the paintings to be surreal, humorous too if possible and the protagonists to be people I know or at the very least not famous or conventionally powerful. I am also very interested in industrialization and gender. I am drawing from my own personal experiences, winding art historical references and British history in, to enable me to create a narrative that will explore my feeling on contemporary British/Global culture.

Kate Mieczkowska