Jonathan Meades is a national treasure. Writer, broadcaster, gourmand, and possessor of the vastest vocabulary this side of Merriam-Webster, he is the hyper-literate, suited and booted bloke we sort of wish we were.
Meades — and for the uninitiated, initiate yourself immediately by watching Slow Food, In Search of Bohemia, or Bunkers, Brutalism and Bloodymindedness: Concrete Poetry — has taken to the pages of The Guardian this week to play Mystic Meg, envisioning Britain a decade after Brexit.
Accompanying Jonathan on his journey into The Great Chip Shortage of 2029 is illustrator Phil Wrigglesworth, who brings Meades’ vision of chaos to life. The result is a kind of Bosch for the Facebook generation. Which is as hellish as that sounds. In a good way, obviously.
“He had no input on the way I translated his Brexit world,” Phil says when It’s Nice That asked if the rather fearsome author of An Encyclopaedia of Myself had exerted any sway when it came to the illustrations. “The Guardian is one of the last bastions of creative freedom and visual eccentricity in the illustration field and long may it continue.”
Describing himself as a “very familiar with his work,” Phil actually based an illustration course at the University of West England on a talk he saw Meades deliver on the notion of getting deliberately lost as a means of stumbling into new ideas, environments, and ways of living.
When asked by It’s Nice That if working on a visual accompaniment to the Great Chaos conjured by the esteemed presenter (and lucky resident of Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse building in Marseille) caused him any anxiety, Phil is insistent that it didn’t.
“The economic policies of our neoliberal governments caused Brexit, not the EU,” he says. “In my opinion, the people of Britain are crying out for inclusive social change and need to realise that the Tories are causing poverty and inequality by stealth.”
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