Hostile environments, social justice and contemporary politics are key concerns within Kennedy Drake’s practice. The phrase ‘hostile environment’ has come to mean many things within the past century. From the cruel trend of hostile architecture within our public spaces that has become a familiar mainstay in our high streets, to the heightening of border security and the dehumanisation of people, whether it be the lower classes, or the vilification of refugees after fleeing oppression, war and famine. Another example of the creation of a hostile environment is the rise of hostility in British politics. The period in late 1940s post-war Britain has often been referred to as the age of austerity due to the national debt. This phrase saw a revival in 2010 with the Cameron and Clegg coalition launching the ‘Big Society’ plan in response to 2008 financial crisis. In addition to this, we have now seen another resurgence of the phrase after what has been deemed the ‘new age of austerity’ because of disorder from political figures, the cost-of-living crisis, the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit.
Trade union banners as proud working-class symbols of unity and strength have unlocked an exploration of textural political work within Kennedy’s practice. For her MFA degree show, she has decided to create a double-sided banner with an oil painted design titled A Land of Austerity, With Hope for Prosperity (2023), greatly influenced by Walter Crane’s illustration, A Garland for May Day (1895).
A Land of Austerity, With Hope for Prosperity is on display in the MFA degree show located in the MFA studio.