Louise Purbrick’s Reflections, 2017


To mark the opening of the exhibition Guernica Remakings Louise Purbrick the instigator of the collective remaking of Picasso’s Guernica as a protest banner on display reflects upon beginnings and gatherings:

Today, Friday 28th July 2017, my day will circle around attending the opening of Guernica Remakings. Other members of the Remaking Picasso’s Guernica Collective are doing just the same thing, for sure, and are, like me, looking forward to gathering together around the banner that we have both created and carried. The act of making this textile piece brought us together, it is an example of how lasting ties between people are also made though creative opposition, doing it ourselves without permission except from each other. We will talk, which has been an essential part of the process of making: stitching and speaking, sewing and listening. No doubt, people will remind me of moments in the making that I have forgotten. There are two I can recall that I want to record here: the first meeting of the Remaking Picasso’s Guernica Collective and the first time I saw the original work.

We met on Wednesday 20th June 2012 in a room on the mezzanine floor of Grand Parade just above where the banner will be exhibited today. The email inviting artists and activists to participate in the project, sent by Pete Seddon and myself, stated ‘we hope this collective endeavour will provide a forum for exchanging experiences and understanding of twenty-first century fascism.’ As our Guernica was pieced together in numerous public sewings ideas were exchanged about countering hate, war and power with collective creativity. In so doing, the work, the textile as a work and our work towards it, contributed to a growing movement of political participation through art practice: from placards to performances.

At least two years after the start of the Remaking project, I saw Pablo Picasso’s Guernica in Museo Renia Sofía in Madrid. Its scale and its use of grey struck me most; the shapes I already knew well. Its enormity and gravity offered a way to recognise the dead killed in aerial bombardment, a supreme exercise in arbitrary power, and as Nicola Ashmore reminds us, expresses the intention of the work: “to push back.”

Louise Purbrick

Guernica 1937, Pablo Picasso. Courtesy of Peter Horree / Alamy
Guernica 1937, Pablo Picasso. Courtesy of Peter Horree / Alamy