What does it mean to be English? Robin Maddock’s book on England attempts to find out

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Rambling between photographs, collages and handwritten poems, the book is a representation of England in this contemporary moment

In June 2016, Robin Maddock was living in Lisbon, when he heard about the result of the Brexit vote. National identity had been a life-long subject of his work, but having lived in Europe for the majority of his adult life, he hasn’t always feel a strong cultural connection to his England. Rattled by the result of the referendum, he felt an urge to get to know his country better.

For three years, Maddock travelled up, down and across the country via car, train, bicycle and on foot. Beginning as a “monstrous, one-off experimental scrapbook”, the project morphed into a mash-up of photographs, collages, drawings and text, loosely organised around themes like sports, youth culture, and tradition.

Now, it is published as a limited run of 750 photobooks. We see the effects of austerity: homelessness, gentrification, and increasing divisions between the left and right. But we also see moments of humour and passion: protests, parties, and the small liberties we got back when Covid restrictions were lifted, like garden shows, gigs and festivals.

There is no order, chronology, or a single title to the book; each title is handwritten before shipping. The result is chaotic, but it is in this chaos that the work finds its strength: as a representation of the country in this contemporary moment.

Robin Maddock’s book on England is available to purchase through his website