Blocks to Brexit!
Margate in Kent may have voted en masse to Leave the EU, but one resident is making his resistance visible from the windows of his high-rise flat.
Not so long ago, the town of Margate, England was emblematic of the sad decline of the British seaside resort. A semantic field of tired amusement arcades and boarded-up shop windows, the town took a strong hit when the advent of low-cost airlines afforded people the freedom to holiday abroad. Now, after decades of neglect, Margate has undergone a rapid rejuvenation. A renaissance if you will; with the renovation of its infamous old theme park, Dreamland, and the opening of the world-renowned Turner Museum of Contemporary Art.
This renaissance has well and truly placed Margate back on the map as one of the most desirable tourist destinations to visit outside of London, and a popular relocation destination for creative class types priced out of the capital. Despite this, the town voted overwhelmingly to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum, with 64 percent of voters backing the Leave campaign. It seems for many in Margate, a once-prosperous seaside town, Britain cannot leave soon enough.
For others, however, the town’s widespread support to leave the EU has not put an end to discussions or campaigns against the referendum’s outcome. Wind farm worker and Margate resident, Rob Yates, who moved to the town from Leeds in 2017, has used his flat in Arlington house for the launch of an anti-Brexit “installation.”
Standing proud as a sparkling example of modernist architecture, Arlington House is an 18-story tower block and icon of the town ‘s centre. Rob, who considers himself an ultra Remainer, commissioned Margate design agency BRYL to create the installation, which simply says “BLOCKBREX.IT” across the entire windows of the flat in the high-rise block.
Rob’s motivations for this installation are simple: “We may have voted for a Brexit journey, but we never voted on the destination!”
“I want this art installation to make people think and realise that the conversation isn’t over”, he adds.
BLOCKBREX.IT is also website where people can play a retro-style game. Players fire European ball-shape flags at block-head politicians who led the country to Brexit. When the player has hit all the blocks, a message appears, followed by another politician’s face.
BRYL, the design studio based in Margate that creates novel digital experiences and responsible for the installation said: “We took direct inspiration from the tower block to create something captivating and interactive. Something that would demand the attention to the subject matter in a more of a fun and playful way than the typical political sloganeering.”
While there was widespread support for the Leave campaign in Margate during the EU referendum, Rob Yates' BLOCKBREX.IT installation provides evidence that such support is not unanimous. As the country continues to grapple with the terms and conditions for exiting the single-market block, these initiatives show that the momentum for a second referendum has not been lost.
Anyone interested in the project or discussion are encouraged to join the conversation with the #BLOCKBREXIT hashtag.
Join your local #STOPBREXIT march! A number of marches are being organised up and down the country - get involved here.
Want to know more about what BRYL studio are up to or have a project in mind? Drop them a line here.
London based Art Advisor, Researcher and Writer