The team behind Riposte reveal a new photography zine about the changing English identity
Rude awakenings and welcome redefinitions for what it means to be English have come to fruition over the past decade meaning a whole new creative expression of our country’s cultural identity.
- Dalia Al-Dujaili
- 7 September 2021
- Reading Time
- 2 minute read
Nowadays it tends to be less “green and pleasant” when we discuss what it means to be English. As we struggle to come to terms with it all and start redefining ourselves within English culture, the team behind the women’s magazine Riposte have curated England Your England, “an exhibition that examines the difference between who we think we are as a nation and who we really are,” they say.
This summer has shown us the best and worst parts of English culture, namely through the Euros football tournament. Danielle Pender, founder of Riposte, says that she felt overwhelmed by the example the England team set during the Euros – “how they carried themselves, how they represented England, what they stood for outside of the game and how Southgate managed the team. It just felt like the absolute best bits of England and then when we lost the absolute worst aspects of our country came spewing out. It was so depressing.”
Pender wanted to explore what being English means to the people who live here in 2021 – “Is it more than football and racism and throwing bottles at people in Leicester Square?” Riposte took inspiration from George Orwell’s essay of the same name – in the 1941 piece, he attempts to define English culture during the height of the Second World War. Danielle wanted to invite a range of photographers who currently live in different areas and come from different backgrounds so that the final collection was a diverse representation of what English culture looks like in 2021, “at this pivotal moment in time.” They explore personal reflections and the wider political questions around what it means to be English in a post-Brexit era.
For example, Juliet Klottrup, based in Yorkshire, submitted “a really amazing image” of her neighbour on the farm nearby in the middle of the shearing season. Whereas Wendy Huynh’s image is a portrait of the Man sisters who are English and Chinese – “the sisters to Wendy represent what it means to be English today,” says Daniella, referring inevitably to the duality and hybridity of contemporary English identity. Founder of Azeema mag Jameela Elfaki “brought beauty and power and inner-city grit together in her image,” says Danielle.
The magazine founder has really missed making print magazines: “Everything has felt so flat and digital over the pandemic so it was really exciting to work with Shaz on different zine formats.” Seeing things in print was a different experience for Danielle and she’s happy that this exhibition will be outdoors and free for people to visit as well as having this zine to accompany it.
The final nine images will be on show at the Outdoor Gallery, Coal Drops Yard from 8 September – 14 November and have also been made into a limited-edition zine featuring Inglan, a specially commissioned poem by Rene Matic. Riposte’s next issue is launching at the end of October after a long hiatus.
Rhiannon Adam: England Your England (Copyright © Riposte, 2021)
About the Author
Dalia joined It’s Nice That as a news writer in July 2021 after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh. She's written for various indie publications such as Azeema and Notion, and ran her own magazine and newsletter platforming marginalised creativity.