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Brexit negotiations and customs unions have become mainstays of news agendas ever since the 2016 referendum. Stories about the threats to British prosperity inspired visual artist Hannah Bays to explore our emotional attachments to ‘British’ products for her RRU commission.

As the artist explained;

“When there is so much uncertainty and worry about what the future holds  after we have left the EU I think people cling to nostalgic notions of what makes us ‘British’.

I wanted to look at the construction of so-called British brands and unpick how designers and advertisers manipulate consumers so that we believe confectionery or condiments or cars are part of our national identity even when they are now manufactured abroad.”

Following a period of research at the Museum of Liverpools archive, Hannah worked on 3 new paintings inside the Rapid Response Unit’s workshop and in a disused shop, both located in the city centre and publicly accessible to encourage  interaction with passers-by.

She chose to work on the giant matchboxes inspired by the Bryant and May factory that operated in Liverpool until 1994. Brands such as Swan Vesta and England’s Glory are now owned by Swedish Match.

At the end of her residency Hannah gave a short talk about her work as part of Liverpool’s Light Night event on Friday 18th May at Bluecoat where her completed paintings were exhibited.

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Hannah Bays Examining British Brands

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Hannah Bays - British Nostalgia

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